The crispy chicken sandwich trend that’s been sweeping the country is finally coming to Houston. After months of teasing on social media, chef Ben McPherson (Batanga, Prohibition) made it official Wednesday by announcing that he’s putting his spin on the movement as the operating partner of a new fast-casual concept called Krisp Bird & Batter.
“The concept kinda came up, and I started getting into it,” McPherson tells CultureMap. “My main inspiration is Shake Shack. I’m not going to hide it. I’ve always been a huge Danny Meyer fan. Watching that grow, I just want to get into this aspect of the industry for a little while.”
Set to open by the end of February in a former Subway at the corner of Richmond and Fountain View, Krisp will serve pasture-raised, hormone-free chicken from Crystal Lake Farms. Fed a vegetarian, non-GMO diet, McPherson describes the birds as the “wagyu” of chicken for their intense flavor.
The chef has spent the last six months developing recipes for chicken (grilled and fried) along with freshly baked rolls and buns. In addition to a classic Southern version topped with cole slaw, Krisp's flavors include a Korean-spiced version with gochujang (but not battered with rice flour), a Southwest sandwich topped with queso, and a classic club with bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Sandwiches are served on freshly baked rolls, whole wheat buns, or made-to-order Belgian waffles.
“I’ve always had a love for fried chicken. My grandpa owned a couple of Popeye’s, and my dad managed them,” McPherson says.
Salads that utilize local produce, waffle-cut fries, milkshakes, and waffle ice cream sandwiches round out the menu. Heights-based roaster Boomtown will supply the coffee and tea. Krisp also aims to be family-friendly by serving kids meals featuring chicken nuggets and organic apple juice.
The chef and his partners are so bullish on the concept that they already have plans to open a second location in The Heights at 2400 N. Shepherd Drive, which will be adjacent to the H-E-B that’s slated to arrive next year after voters approved a measure that allows for off-premise liquor sales.
Ultimately, McPherson sees his participation in the project as the next step towards owning his own restaurant, but that’s a few years away. For now, he’s focused on making Krisp Houston’s next fast-casual hotspot.