Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack makes progress with second location

Rich and Lauren Cundiff, co-owners of Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack, have launched into the demolition and early-construction phase of their planned second location in Arden. “We were looking all over Asheville for over a year,” Lauren says of their search for the perfect spot. The couple eventually negotiated a lease on the building adjacent to a vacant lot they already owned on Sweeten Creek Road. “It’s going to be double the size of our West Asheville location,” Lauren says.  Their vacant lot will soon be converted into a parking area with an open, grassy space for Frisbee or kids to play.

The expansive new location means Rocky’s can now offer rotisserie chickens. “Many of our customers wanted a healthier alternative,” Lauren says, “but the kitchen we have now just doesn’t have the space.” With a total of 12 beer taps, they’ll be able to offer a wider selection of local beers, as well as a full bar. The larger kitchen will also enable Rocky’s to amp up their take-out service and offer catering. “We’ll have take-out, family-size dinner packages, such as a whole chicken with two sides,” Lauren says.

According to Lauren, the new restaurant will have décor similar to that of their existing location, utilizing corrugated metal, wood and concrete floors, “We’re aiming for the same comfortable, funky-industrial vibe.” No stranger to store design, Lauren has designed stores for Whole Foods all over the U.S including in Texas, Hawaii, Arizona and California. She and Rich were both among the original team members of Whole Foods back in the 1980s. Rich retired from Whole Foods in 2000, and Lauren followed suit in 2008 when they moved to Asheville. As a team, the couple complement one another’s strengths. Rich has a strong operations background; his forté is in scheduling and evaluating food costs. He’s known as a “spread sheet wizard,” according to Lauren. Lauren handles more of the day-to-day operations and design elements. “We have to divide and conquer with our time,” she says.

Bob Wallace, head chef and kitchen manager of the West Asheville location, will be instrumental in getting the new spot up and running. Many current staff members will be receiving promotions to help with managing the new restaurant and getting it started. “I love all the aspects of getting a restaurant designed,” Lauren says, “but at the end of the day, it needs to be open.” The Cundiffs have Memorial Day weekend targeted for their grand opening.

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