Two decades after setting up shop on King Street, Kickin’ Chicken will look for a new home downtown after it closes its longtime storefront near the College of Charleston.
The local chain’s oldest location will close its doors for good at 337 King St. on April 25. The closing is not directly related to coronavirus closures that have forced many restaurants to adopt take-out and delivery, an option that Kickin’ Chicken has always had available.
The company has its eyes on a new location “on the peninsula,” but isn’t ready to say where.
Kickin’ Chicken initially opened on Morrison Drive, where it first operated a busy take-out and delivery business before that area was home to trendy restaurants and high-rise buildings. In 1997, the business moved to 350 King St., just north of the current location which opened in 1999. A block away from the College of Charleston, Kickin’ Chicken has always been popular among students and the campus community.
“The face of King Street has changed, obviously,” says Chip Roberts, one of Kickin’ Chicken’s founders and owners. “That restaurant launched this entire company.”
Kickin’ Chicken now operates six locations in the Charleston area and continues looking for expansion opportunities, Roberts says. The King Street location averaged 44 employees last year, Roberts says. Still operating take out and delivery, 14 employees will work at the location through the end of the month.
The next downtown home will include features found in the restaurant’s newer Mt. Pleasant and Dorchester Road locations such as an indoor-outdoor bar. The chain is also exploring the possibility of moving its James Island location.
Roberts and his partners sold the downtown building at 337 King St. last August in preparation for a move and have been leasing since then. The new owners, Conway-based Burroughs & Chapin, have not said what will take its place, according to Roberts.
The company had hoped to mark the restaurant’s closure with a couple weeks of specials and reunions with former staff and locals, but those plans were shelved due to COVID-19.
Until the restaurant shuts down on April 25, Kickin’ Chicken loyalists can get their wings and chicken fingers to go or via delivery.
“The downtown community has been the backbone to the restaurant’s success and is invited to come by and say goodbye to the flagship store,” the company said in a press release on Wednesday.