flying into montrose
Aggie-favorite chicken fingers spot sets opening date for River Oaks/Montrose outpost
An Aggieland favorite has arrived inside the loop. Layne’s Chicken Fingers will celebrate its grand opening this Saturday, January 20.
Located in former KFC at 2359 S. Shepherd Dr., the new location is Layne’s third in the Houston-area and a fourth for franchisee Masroor Fatany, a graduate of Texas A&M who also owns seven Halal Guys restaurants across the Houston area. Fatany tells CultureMap he pursued bringing Layne’s to Houston for a few years before finally securing a franchise for the Greater Houston area.
“When I was at school in the early 2000s, I remember Layne’s being such an important part of the culture. If you wanted a good meal at a great price, you went to Layne’s. There wasn't any competition to Raising Cane’s,” he says.
While some might think Raising Cane’s predates Layne’s, the opposite is true. Layne’s opened its first location in 1994. Cane’s debuted in 1996.
“What I loved about Layne’s outside of the Texas A&M piece is they had a great story,” Fatany says. “They’re born and bred in Texas. A lot of people think Layne’s is an imitator of Cane’s. These guys were first.”
The restaurant will serve Layne's tightly focused menu of chicken tenders, chicken tender sandwiches, Texas toast, crinkle-cut fries, potato salad, and milkshakes. All of its self-described "Soon to be Famous" chicken fingers are cut by hand, marinated, and breaded on-site. They can be paired with one of six dipping sauces: Layne’s Secret Sauce, described as "the perfect blend of tangy, spicy, zesty, and peppery flavors;" buttermilk ranch; barbecue; jalapeno ranch; gravy; and honey mustard.
A recently introduced spicy tender has only enhanced the restaurant’s popularity, Fatany adds.
“This was something the franchisor and I developed. That has taken off to where a good percentage of our sales are spicy tenders,” he says. “Research shows more brands are adding spicy to their menu. Layne’s has done a great job of taking their tender and adding a little kick to it.”
Layne’s previous openings have been greeted with enough enthusiasm that Fatany has had police officers on site to manage the traffic. He expects an even larger crowd on Saturday. The grand opening will feature a DJ, swag, food samples, and the possibility to win free Layne’s for a year.
Fatany thinks the location is poised for success. He’s had his eyes on the building for awhile. Unlike Ella, which is drive-thru only, the River Oaks/Montrose location will seat 18 people. Eventually, curbside and third-party delivery will also be available.
“The way Shepherd turns, it really puts [the building] front and center. You can’t miss it,” he says. “Shepherd close to Westheimer, the density around Fairview — I feel like it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Houston.”
Fatany’s development agreement with Layne’s covers a territory that goes as far east as Beaumont, as far south as Galveston, and as far west as Sealy. In other words, he has a lot more restaurants to open, but he’s not in a hurry.
“There’s no aggressive deadline I need to meet. We’ll grow organically,” he says. “We’ve got four. Five and six are brewing. We’re in the market for great sites. There’s no better way to build a brand than starting with the inner loop. When a brand gets there, word spreads fast.”