McDonald’s Franchisees Crave Chicken

To compete with Chick-fil-A, the restaurateurs want a premium chicken sandwich.

July 12, 2019

CHICAGO–U.S. McDonald’s franchisees are begging the chain to come up with a premium chicken sandwich, CNBC reports. The operators see having such a menu item as essential to keep up with Chick-fil-A, which recently snagged the third spot among U.S. restaurant chains in terms of sales.

Currently, McDonald’s offers the McChicken sandwich and chicken nuggets, but there is no Southern-style chicken sandwich on its menu. “McDonald’s carries chicken nuggets and the McChicken sandwich but does not have a premium chicken sandwich,” the National Owners Association (NOA) board said in an email addressed to fellow operators this week. U.S. franchisees founded the board in 2018 to address some of their collective concerns about discounts and high-tech renovations.

“Unfortunately, they have to go to Chick Fil A for it. Chick Fil A’s results demonstrate the power of chicken,” the email continued. “We do not compete in the premium chicken sandwich category, either grilled or crispy. Our U.S. Southeast markets’ results should concern everyone. You may not have Chick Fil A’s in your market or to the degree they have them in the southeast, but they are coming. And they don’t discount.”

Suggestions from the board include testing the Southern Style Chicken Sandwich (which McDonald’s yanked from the menu a few years ago) with a nod to Chick-fil-A by buttering the bun and putting the sandwich in a foil bag. Last fall, McDonald’s did start a pilot on an Ultimate Chicken Sandwich in Washington state, and future plans include a spicy chicken sandwich and tenders for this fall.