Before the recent fried chicken boom in the Heights, Lance Fegen — executive chef and owner of BRC Gastropub, Liberty Kitchen, Petite Sweets and Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette — had plans to open his own chicken and doughnut restaurant last year. Those plans were set aside to focus on Liberty Kitchen's Austin expansion and later scrapped altogether.
Perhaps seeing the crowds at H-Town StrEATs' The Bird House — the food truck's seasonal fried chicken shack in the Heights— and The Modular's Joshua Martinez's The Chicken Ranch also in the Heights, changed Fegen's mind. Yesterday, CultureMap broke the news that the concept is back in play. Fegen's restaurant group, F.E.E.D. TX, is expecting to open the tentatively named Lee's Fried Chicken & Doughnuts in March at the former Church's Chicken on the corner of Heights Boulevard. "The group had planned to open the concept in the space behind the original Liberty Kitchen, but it wasn't viable," notes CultureMap. The restaurant's name suggests Fegen may keep the doughnut portion in tact too, also competing with H-Town StrEATs' forthcoming Hugs & Donuts.
Is the Heights single-handedly trying to become Houston's Southern fried chicken mecca — a title unofficially bestowed to the city's southeast neighborhoods of Third Ward, South Park and Sunnyside years ago? Yes. The real question is whether the growing number of restaurants serving this Southern delicacy in close proximity to each other can continue to flourish or will the fried chicken boom become a bust?