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number 11 number 23

Rice MBAs are Chicken

HOUSTON, February 6, 2006—It didn’t take long after their arrival to Houston, for class of ’05 Rice MBA students Luis E. Miguel and Andres Poma to feel the need of a healthy alternative to fast food near Rice’s campus.  With a hectic schedule, and very little free time, they both missed their favorite restaurant, South Florida’s “Chicken Kitchen.”  Having lived in Miami, they both missed the benefits of food served as quick as fast food restaurants with the freshness and quality of a 4-star restaurant. Their entrepreneurial spirit and their strong desire to put into action what they were learning in school led them to contact Chicken Kitchen’s corporate offices in South Florida for the possibility of bringing the franchise to Houston. Shortly after this, they decided to invite their long-time friend and Chicken Kitchen devotee, Federico Muyshondt, to create a business plan and complement their partnership.
 
Together, and with the help of Rice faculty, they came up with a business plan and proposal to bring the popular, healthy fast casual restaurant to Houston.  The response was not what they expected from South Florida, as their proposals and requests returned unanswered.  After months of long conversations over countless beers at “Buffalo Wild Wings” and “Two Rows,” among other student hangout places, Luis received an unexpected call from Chicken Kitchen’s newly appointed VP of Franchising, Frank Blackman.  The company’s CEO and CK’s founder, Christian de Berdouare wanted to hear their proposal.  “Our hopes that it could become a reality came back and we felt huge pressure to impress them when we presented our proposal in Miami” explained Luis Miguel.  “We focused on the huge opportunity that existed in bringing a unique, health oriented and great tasting concept to one of the fattest ranked cities in the United States” added Muyshondt.
 
Houston’s potential as a market for Chicken Kitchen impressed Berdouare and he finally gave in to the proposed idea.  Houston became one of the key major cities leading the way for Chicken Kitchen’s national expansion.  “Houston’s potential and demographics are extraordinary… .  It’s a perfect place to establish yourself and grow as a company,” reasoned Andres Poma.  It was because of this that the “Three Amigos” decided to enter into a Franchise Development Agreement with Chicken Kitchen, where they would have exclusivity rights to own and sub-franchise Chicken Kitchen restaurants in Houston.  “[We all] believe in the concept, our product, and the city of Houston.  That’s why we have a strategic plan for expansion in the coming years” explained Luis Miguel.
 
Chicken Kitchen’s first location at Rice Village (2516 Rice Blvd) is set to open in mid-February while their second location, a sub-franchised store will open about 6-8 months later on Westheimer, at The Carillon Shopping Center.
 
PLANS OF EXPANSION

As part of the Franchise Development Agreement, Chicken Kitchen Houston plans to expand their number of stores via sub-franchising and company owned stores. “We have plans to open over 20 stores in the next six years” expressed Muyshondt “…it’s really exciting!”
 
While they already have sub-franchised one store, they are currently in talks with a couple of interested parties as well.  Plans also include opening up a third store in late 2006.
 
“THE THREE AMIGOS”

The brains behind the creation of Chicken Kitchen Houston; Luis Miguel, Andres Poma, and Federico Muyshondt, come from very similar backgrounds.  They’re all originally from El Salvador, Central America and have lived at one point or another in Miami FL, where they all fell in love with Chicken Kitchen.  Entrepreneurship has been instilled in them by their families, who have flourished in industries like retailing, construction, agriculture, hospitality, and banking.  Luis Miguel graduated with a textile engineering degree from North Carolina State University in 2000, while Andres Poma obtained a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from Cornell University in 1999.  They both started their MBA at Rice University’s Jones School of Management in 2003 and graduated in May 2005.  The support, high degree of interaction, and the help offered by the faculty of the Rice MBA program in the process also attracted Federico Muyshondt  (bachelor’s degree in marketing from Texas A&M University in 2003) to come to the Rice MBA program in 2005.  Muyshondt says, he “was very lucky to see firsthand how great the Rice MBA faculty are and how they support their students. With a personalized system like that and a great program, it was a no brainer for me to pick Rice.”
 
ABOUT CHICKEN KITCHEN

Chicken Kitchen® is the world's ORIGINAL, award-winning, Grilled (not fried) Chicken Fast-Food restaurant.
 
Chicken Kitchen® is a rapidly expanding franchise that features marinated grilled chicken, boneless pita "pocket" chicken breast sandwiches, unique Chop Chop™ entrees, freshly prepared "homemade" side dishes, and special proprietary sauces. The key to the success of Chicken Kitchen® is the emphasis on high quality, fresh, natural, and healthy food.  It currently operates 36 restaurants in Florida and in 2006 they are entering new key markets like Houston.
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