US fried chicken franchise comes to Jamaica | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

US fast-food franchise BirdShack Fried Chicken will open in Jamaica next month, with Whitter Village Shopping Mall in Montego Bay as its first location locally.

BirdShack Fried Chicken Jamaica is operated by franchise holder Arya QSR, a subsidiary of Arya Holdings Limited, led by tourism industry veteran Wayne Cummings as CEO.

Ayra QSR is pumping $30 million in the BirdShack, Whitter Village store. The company has plans to open a second location in the second city this year.

Working alongside BirdShack LLC’s Jamaica Area Developers, CookSmart Equipment and Supplies Limited, the franchise agreement commits Arya to develop nine stores in Jamaica over the next five years.

However, Arya is confident that they will grow the BirdShack footprint well beyond that mark.

“The ambition is to be in the capital of all the parishes in the business sections,” said Cummings.

Wayne Cummings, CEO of Arya Holding Jamaica

Cummings said the decision to sign with BirdShack was an easy one, given its proprietary seasonings, breading and cooking processes.

“We will have an original, spicy and BBQ option. But very different tastes from the others. But we think it will land safely in a place that excites the Jamaican palate,” Cummings said.

And even more than that, because of the process used.

“We use a kettle fryer that is unique to BirdShack. The meat is tender, and the oil residue is greatly reduced by the process,” the Arya Holdings CEO added.

BirdShack Chicken brings direct competition to fast-food joints like KFC and Popeyes, but its entry into the market comes when chicken prices are rising.

But Cummings isn’t daunted by the changing market conditions.

“I think it’s unfortunate, but what is happening is we have little control over it. I’ve paid attention to the footfall and the traffic of the customers of our competitors, and I have not seen the lines abate,” he said.

A 10 per cent increase in chicken prices was applied by large poultry producer Jamaica Broilers at the end of January. Prices could again soar following a ban on wheat from the war-ravaged Ukraine, which will impact the cost of raw materials used in animal feeds.

“I believe that even with the 10 per cent that was put on by the chicken producers recently, the price increase of what will be our competitors was marginal and remained affordable,” Cummings said.

Cummings said consumers still see quick-service restaurants as convenient, and Arya wants to be part of that environment.

Arya Holdings is also the holding company for Arya Resorts Management Company Limited, a Tourism and Hospitality consultancy firm established in 2020.

Arya Resort’s offerings include the provision of hospitality consultation services to include management of hotel and resort properties, property turnarounds, service quality, team member training and recruitment, and hospitality supply chain management.

Cummings said Arya’s entry into the quick-service market is a means of diversifying the business.

“In my 30-odd years of being in tourism, nothing would have prepared us for the pandemic. We were always doing well, year after year, hurricanes, whatever would have happened externally. We were always resilient. But then the pandemic came, and our industry was shut down,” he said.

Cummings added: “Though tourism is our primary business. We wanted to ensure that we hedge our bets a little bit.”

Arya is currently working on a hotel brand, details of which will be released, Cumming said.