The Untold Truth Of Guy Fieri's Chicken Guy! Restaurant Chain

Guy Fieri ranks as an incredibly recognizable celebrity chef. Known for his over-the-top theatrics, a shock of frosted hair, and sunglasses, the chef has made a name for himself by showcasing everyday comfort food, per Fieri's website.

Fieri got his big break in 2006 when he won "The Next Food Network Star." Fieri took that chance and ran with it, starring on several shows, including "Guy's Big Bite," "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," and "Guy's Grocery Games." At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the chef also raised over $21 million for restaurant workers who found themselves without work via the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, per The Press Democrat. Fieri's Food Network fame helped him open several restaurants, including Guy Fieri's Chophouse, Guy Fieri's American Kitchen & Bar, El Burro Borracho!, and Guy Fieri's Dive Bar and Taco Joint, and Chicken Guy!, the chef's love letter to the namesake bird. This soon-to-be iconic restaurant can dish out great fried chicken with the best of them, but there's more than meets the eye when it comes to this fast food venture.

The origins of Chicken Guy!

Chicken Guy! is a fast-casual concept specializing in fried chicken. The restaurant is a collaboration between Guy Fieri and restaurateur Robert Earl according to the restaurant's website. Robert Earl is the CEO and founder of Planet Hollywood and the chairman of the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, per Boston University. The restaurateur also brought the Earl of Sandwich chain to the U.S. in 2003 and has dipped his toes in a variety of businesses over the years.

In October 2018, Fieri and Earl opened the first Chicken Guy! restaurant in the Disney Springs entertainment complex at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida (via Chicken Guy!). Fieri was even joined by Mickey Mouse at the grand opening ceremony for the flagship Chicken Guy! (via YouTube). 

The secret ingredient of Chicken Guy!

Like the name suggests, Chicken Guy! features a menu that revolves around the chicken and while the restaurant does offer a grilled take on the namesake poultry, Fieri has spent a ton of time perfecting the fried chicken tenders, per the restaurant's website.

Guy Fieri set out to make his chicken stand out from others, telling Food & Wine, "I've seen people do it right and I've seen people do it wrong." Fieri shared that the flavor comes from a special brining ingredient that the restaurant uses. "We put pickle juice in our fried chicken and people are like, 'where did that come from?'" the chef said. "I don't know but I had to have picked it up from somewhere."

The crispy tenders are made by hand-pounding the chicken, which is then brined in pickle juice, fresh lemon juice, and buttermilk. The pieces of protein then get infused with a blend of fresh herbs before they're breaded and fried. This frying process also brings something special to the table that helps Chicken Guy! stand out from the competition.

Chicken Guy! has a special frying technique

Chicken Guy! doesn't just throw those breaded tenders into a vat of oil. According to Food & Wine, the restaurants use pressure fryers to keep the chicken moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. "I've only seen that in two out of a thousand restaurants I've visited," Fieri told Food & Wine. "So where exactly it came from and how it all melded together I don't know, but without question, I've gotten to see the best of the best in the business." Fieri, not one to be shy about things, added, "It's fried chicken, but it's d*** good fried chicken."

The chef believes consumers are more apt to want fresh, quality food than in past decades and strives to make that the case at this fried chicken establishment. "People know the difference between good and bad," Fieri said. "There were a lot of restaurant chains and concepts that were prevailing in the 80s and 90s and now they're not."

Chicken Guy! relies on specialty sauces

Chicken Guy! is all about its sauces. The restaurant's sandwiches, salads, and tenders come with a choice of sauces — 22 to be exact, per the restaurant's menu. The sauces are all developed by Fieri and can fit virtually every palate. Chicken Guy! claims that if you get creative, there are over 4,075,608,180 sauce combinations. Even if that number seems astronomically high, when something tastes this delicious, it's hard to argue.

One of the restaurant's most iconic sauces is the classic Donkey Sauce. This condiment served on other signature dishes at Fieri's other restaurants, gained an infamous reputation in a scathing review of Guy's American Kitchen & Bar. A 2012 New York Times review was written as an open letter to Fieri in which the critic asked questions about the menu, including the memorable "When we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?"

Luckily for everyone, the chef reveals what's in his Donkey Sauce — it's a mix of mayo, roasted garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon — no donkey parts at all. 

You can open a Chicken Guy!

Superfans of Guy Fieri can actually go into partnership with the celebrity chef. If you're an entrepreneur who loves chicken and dreams of owning a restaurant, Chicken Guy! is also offering franchise opportunities, according to the company's website. The opportunity also gives you the ability to tell all your friends that Fieri is your business partner, making you almost the co-mayor of Flavortown. 

Franchise Grade calculates that owning a Chicken Guy! franchise can cost well over a million dollars. In addition to a franchise fee of $20,000, the total investment for a Chicken Guy! franchise ranges from $767,500 to $1,482,500. Working capital — what's needed to run the restaurant — is estimated to be between $25,000 and $50,000 and there's also a 6% royalty fee. There are no Chicken Guy! franchises as of 2020, so the market is wide open with potential.