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Chicken chain looks set to leave Utah

The Crack Shack

After rumors surfaced over on Reddit recently, the SL Trib’s Kolbie Peterson today confirmed that the Crack Shack will be soon vanish from the dining landscape in Utah. For fans of fried chicken the news might be bittersweet however. Also confirmed in Peterson’s story was news that private equity group Savory will be transforming current Crack Shack locations in Utah to another brand in their stable of fast casuals – Houston TX Hot Chicken. The Crack Shack will continue to live on in other states, but for now, it seems that their Utah days are done.

Founded in 2015, the San Diego based boutique chain first caught the attention of Savory Fund back in 2020; the Utah based group impressed by the Crack Shack’s resilience during covid’s tumult.

The first store to land in Utah was the 9th and 9th location, taking over the space of a departed Mazza; colorful pop art style designs replaced the former copper hued tones of the Middle Eastern restaurant. By October 2021 the brand had secured a full service liquor license, ultimately opening before the end of the year. That liquor license saw the brand notably tapping plenty of local beers such as KiiTOS, Shades Brewing and T.F. Brewing as well as also pouring craft cocktails and wine.

A 3100 square foot location in Lehi was announced next in April 2022 with Riverton following along in November. St George was next on the list in the Spring of 2023 with Murray the fifth build out by the Summer.

Whether you love or loathe chains, I do believe the Cali-import was a notable one. Initially booted up in part by celebrity chef Richard Blais (no longer involved I should add) the Crack Shack’s USP was their use of Jidori chicken -organic, free-range birds from small California farms.

In turn the company charged higher prices reflecting the quality sourcing. It was solid stuff when I first sampled it in 2022. From a past story I wrote, “It cracks and it shatters and it makes a finger licking mess like all fried chicken should. As well as half bird and full bird plates, there’s a range of heaving sandwiches; and it’s all heavy on brand, from the inflatable chicken outside right down to the detailed packaging encouraging you to ‘crack me open’.”

Crack Shack packaging
Crack Shack packaging (Gastronomic SLC)
Crack Shack - Jidori chicken
Crack Shack – Jidori chicken (Gastronomic SLC)
Crack Shack - coup de ville sandwich (Gastronomic SLC)
Crack Shack – coup de ville sandwich (Gastronomic SLC)
Crack Shack - coup de ville sandwich
Crack Shack – coup de ville sandwich (Gastronomic SLC)

Crack Shack’s initial arrival in the Beehive came amidst a tidal wave of popularly for fried chicken, especially fried chicken sandwiches. Multiple openings on the local dining scene reflected the larger national picture.

Pretty Bird is perhaps the most well known local brand, the work of local chef turned TV star Viet Pham. Mr Charlie’s Chicken and Dirty Bird Chxx are two other notable local brands that have expanded their footprints locally in recent years. Raising Cane’s of course, made waves with their arrival in the state, not least their flamboyant retrofit of their Midvale location with the help of Post Malone. Another recent newcomer to the state was Dave’s Hot chicken. I could write dozen upon dozens of paragraphs further on the offerings of local independent businesses. Suffices to say – people love a fried chicken sandwich.

Back to the start of this story though, and HTXHC will be the next to expand their reach locally. The first Houston TX Hot Chicken debuted in Utah back in the Spring of this year. The brand’s own unique approach is a fiery one, offering dishes on a scale of “no spice” through “Houston we have a problem”. That last one? A brutal 2 million scovilles of capsaicin fire applied to your tender or sandwich; a choice that apparently requires a waver from the diner. Check out their menu here.

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1 thought on “Chicken chain looks set to leave Utah”

  1. *waiver* Didn’t they just open the Murray location? I need to get out more. I haven’t eaten at any of the chicken joints mentioned in the story…

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