Bringing a new kind of fried chicken into the heart of Colonel Sanders country might seem like trying to sell ice in the Arctic, but Harry Dennery believes he is onto something. A native of New Orleans but a Louisvillian for the past 33 years, he recently introduced Louisiana’s Krispy Krunchy Chicken to this area. It’s now winning fans at several locations, including the Moby Dick restaurant at 4848 Shelbyville Road.
Dennery is no newcomer to the food industry. After his discharge from the army in 1970, he started working in the business that his family had started – a company that made pie filling, fruitcake topping and ice cream products. Later, he owned a beverage-delivery service; worked for a company that made dry yeast; and ran his own food service brokerage business, representing brands such as Sara Lee.
He encountered Krispy Krunchy Chicken several years ago through his food-distribution contacts at Sysco Louisville.
“I tasted the product and fell in love,” he said. “I met Krispy Krunchy’s executive vice president and found that we had a lot in common. They have “˜market partners’ who develop territories, and it sounded like a good business for me.”
This new bird on the block was developed in Lafayette, La., primarily for convenience stores in the early 1990s. Krispy Krunchy Chicken – made only with Tyson poultry – is already popular in Kentucky towns that are too small to support a free-standing restaurant from a national chain.
“Food service is, percentage-wise, the most profitable arm of sales at convenience stores. They make very little money selling gasoline,” Dennery said. “When stores add Krispy Krunchy Chicken, they can sell other foods as well, as long as ours is their only chicken.”
As a market partner with the upstart chain, he searches for locations interested in offering their customers chicken that’s needle-injected with a marinade which enhances, but doesn’t overpower, the taste of the meat. Krispy Krunchy Chicken also makes Deep South favorites such as red beans and rice, jambalaya, and honey-butter biscuits.
“This Moby Dick restaurant is something a little different for us,” Dennery said. “I’ve known its owner, Don Rigazio, for years. The big dog in town co-brands fish and chicken in several stores, so I said to Don one day, “˜Why don’t we try chicken in your store and see how it goes? The fish people will still come to Moby Dick because it’s the best fish sandwich in town, but maybe you can get some chicken customers in here because it’s the best chicken in town.’”
Over the past three years, Dennery and a Krispy Krunchy trainer, who spends a week at each new location, have helped about 45 stores in this region introduce the chicken to their customers (the corporation has about 600 sites in 25 states). At present, the Moby Dick restaurant is the only one in Louisville’s East End, but Dennery expects a site near Hurstbourne Lane to join the team soon.
“KFC being here doesn’t really interfere with us; they have great chicken, but we have a different flavor profile. My goal for 2011 is to double our size over last year, and double it again in 2012,” he said. “Of course, I’m starting from a small base of stores; but in this economy, I’m pleased with 100 percent growth.”
For information about Krispy Krunchy Chicken, visit www.krispykrunchy.com.
Category: Business Profile