Enjoy Crispy Chicken and Fried Potatoes!
Chicken is one of the favorite foods of Koreans regardless of age or gender. It goes well with Coke and beer, so it is the first dish that Koreans think of when they get together. Due to such huge popularity, chicken franchises and restaurants are mushrooming in Korea. However, those who dare to jump into this saturated market without a differentiated strategy may suffer big losses. OUTDARK, operated by the Korean corporation TEDS, is a Korean-style fried chicken restaurant enterprise. Despite being a late starter in the market, OUTDARK has emerged as a burgeoning franchise brand. It is steadily growing on campus streets in Busan and South Gyeongsang Province based on a strategy that targets young customers in their 20s.
OUTDARK, A Restaurant Where You Can Enjoy Chicken to the Fullest
The brand name OUTDARK evokes in many people the image of the famous family restaurant Outback. And they spontaneously associate the restaurant with casual western-style interior decoration, pleasant music, and friendly service. OUTDARK sounds similar to the name of the Australian-themed American restaurant and also offers similar ambience and service. The menu of OUTDARK is in an unusual format―it looks like a newsletter or a magazine and includes information on tourist sites in the vicinity of the restaurant as well as various cultural and entertainment news. Mr. Cho Boo-ho, a director at the OUTDARK main office, introduced the brand, “OUTDARK is a new-concept chicken restaurant that diners can visit to enjoy chicken as a meal. It is different from the traditional concept of a pub in which people eat chicken merely as an accompaniment to alcoholic drinks.”
Main Customer Base Are Young People… Differentiation through Ambience, Taste, & Price
About 80 percent of OUTDARK’s customers are young people. Thus, to appeal to young customers, including college students who have light pockets, the chicken restaurant serves ample helpings of dishes for the price. At the same time, it maintains a posh restaurant-like ambience. One of the fad phrases in Korea these days is “one “person, one chicken,” meaning that you have to order one chicken for each person at the table. However, the servings of OUTDARK are so large that one chicken is sufficient for two robust men. Mr. Cho explains, “OUTDARK serves large helpings for the price. It includes fried potatoes along with chicken as a basic entry, and this attracts many students with light pockets.” Mr. Cho emphasizes that the ambience, pricing, and taste satisfying the young customer base are the strategies differentiating OUTDARK from other stores serving chicken.
Korean-Style Fried Chicken and Seasoned Chicken Served as Main Dishes
Since OUTDARK is a restaurant specializing in chicken, its menu is quite simple. The dishes are divided into three main categories: fried chicken made using a special curing method, chicken seasoned in gochujang (red-pepper paste), and chicken in ganjang (soy sauce). Each of the categories also has a subcategory of boneless chicken. Finally, the menu includes some side dishes such as fried potatoes, fried rice cakes, cheese sticks, and sausages. Mr. Cho said that OUTDARK is focusing on serving delicious and hearty chicken dishes. In his words, “At OUTDARK, the chicken itself is the main dish, unlike other restaurants that serve chicken as one of several accompaniments to alcoholic drinks.”
Starts Overseas Expansion with Two Stores in Hong Kong
The brand has made steady progress by opening 34 stores in Korea. Seven of those are run directly by the OUTDARK headquarters. Since last year, the company has been making efforts to enter overseas markets based on the know-how accumulated by operating the stores in Korea. This February, the first overseas store of OUTDARK opened in Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong. August marked the opening of another store in the Mongkok area. Boosted by the so-called chi-maek (chicken and beer) trend, which was fanned even more by the Korean TV drama My Love from Another Star, these overseas stores directly operated by the OUTDARK headquarters are thriving. They have long lines of customers waiting to get in.
Based on the favorable response of local consumers, OUTDARK is planning to open a third store in the central district of Hong Kong in the first half of next year. The company has already constructed a distribution center in Hong Kong to expand its overseas business. What’s more, if it finds a partner in line with the concept and philosophy of OUTDARK, the company will cultivate its overseas business as a master franchise in lieu of the current direct operation structure. Mr. Cho said, “OUTDARK will make Hong Kong the base for entering into China and Southeast Asia.” According to him, the company’s staff relentlessly visits other countries to prepare for the expansion of overseas operations.
Grilled Cheese Back Ribs Popular in OUTDARK Stores in Hong Kong
The stores in Hong Kong―in addition to chicken dishes―sell various Korean dishes such as grilled cheese galbi (back ribs), gimbap (seaweed rolls), bibimbap (rice mixed with assorted vegetables and beef), tteokbokki (stir-fried spicy rice cakes), and ramyeon (instant noodles). The addition to the menu was done at the request of local consumers who wanted to try various Korean dishes at one place.
Among the additional entries on the menu, the grilled cheese galbi is the most popular. It is made by spreading a sweet and spicy sauce on back ribs and putting mozzarella cheese on the top. The dish is served on a large grill along with a steamed egg, stir-fried kimchi, sweet potato mousse, and mayonnaise corn.
Mr. Cho said, “We added other Korean dishes to our menu in Hong Kong because OUTDARK is seen by local consumers as a Korean restaurant rather than a specialized chicken restaurant. The popularity of the cheese back ribs is almost as high as that of the chicken dishes.”
Park Sung Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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