In 1971, with only $200 in his wallet, Moe Bonakdar left Iran for America, picking up English along the way. Thirty years later, he's president of Charo Chicken Systems Inc., a quick-service restaurant featuring fresh, flame-broiled chicken. With 11 California locations and seven more in the works for 2001, Bonakdar believes chicken will soon rival pizza for the No. 1 spot in the delivery arena.
"The future and direction of the restaurant business is going to be delivery," says Bonakdar, 49, who started franchising in 1999. "Pizza right now is the dominant player in that field, but we're laying the foundation for chicken."
Ironically, Bonakdar's first taste of the restaurant business just happened to come in the form of a pizza pie. After college, lured by the restaurant bug, Bonakdar opened his own pizza place called Al Capone's in 1979. That business grew to five Southern California units, but Bonakdar wasn't satisfied. In 1984, believing chicken was the next big thing, he opened his first Charo Chicken store in Seal Beach, California, to serve a brand of healthy, fresh chicken. Since then, his business has been 40 percent delivery, 40 percent takeout and 20 percent dine-in. With sales of $900,000 for 2000, Bonakdar's five-year plan is to build his franchise into 50 franchise locations.
"If you can put together taste with a healthy image, you have a viable concept," he says. And that's one combination pizza businesses haven't delivered.
- Charo Chicken Systems Inc., www.charochicken.com, (714) 960-2348