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Chicken Franchise Spreads Its Wings

Ireland's clutch of fried chicken eateries is ever growing and the latest franchise to spread its wings is Hillbilly's Family Restaurants.

The home-grown fried chicken restaurant chain started out in Cork in 1997, with founder Michael Grace at the helm.

His late uncle, Pat Grace, brought the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise to Ireland, with the blessing of Colonel Sanders himself, in the early 70s. After relations with KFC soured, Grace later ran his own 'Famous Fried Chicken' chain in the 80s, expanding it to around 18  outlets.

That business petered out but at least the appetite for entrepreneurship made its way down to Pat's nephew.

Michael Grace's fried chicken franchise operation currently numbers 11 outlets, with another opening due shortly.

The business has successfully stuck to producing variations on a fried chicken theme up to now, but Dermot Carberry, director of franchising with Hillbilly's, says that that is about to change.

“We are expanding the menu to include pies, pizzas and beef products,” he explains.

The larger menu was rolled out in Hillbilly's Eyre Square outlet in Galway, which opened recently.

Other Hillbilly's franchisees are located in Cork, Waterford, Dublin, Derry, Donegal, Kerry and Clare. The three new stores will be located in Dublin, Galway and Cork.

Hillbilly's is making room in its coop for more interested franchisees, who pay an outlay of €27,000 plus VAT to take on the brand. The business takes 8% of gross sales turnover annually.

Carberry says its outlets have average turnover of €1m each year. Michael Grace is listed as a director of 16 companies, including Hillbilly's Fried Chicken, Golden East Fried Chicken, Eddie's Fried Chicken, Sun Fried Chicken and Hillbilly's Pizza and Wings. (August 2014)


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