Boxcar Betty’s is bringing its southern fried chicken sandwiches from Charleston, South Carolina, to Chicago later this month. The fast-casual restaurant serves fried and breaded chicken breasts that are brined for 24 hours at their two locations in South Carolina. Its first location outside of the state should open sometime in May at Ogilvie Transportation Center at 500 W. Madison Street.
The chain debuted in 2014 and critics have compared the sandwich to Chick-fil-A, but without the polarizing politics. Not to be mixed up with Nashville hot chicken — which has popped up a lot around town in recent months — heat isn’t what Boxcar Betty’s is about. It serves the chicken in three styles: traditional (pimiento cheese, peach coleslaw, pickles, and spicy mayo), Buffalo with a blue cheese sauce, and a sweet version with bacon jam meant to be reminiscent of chicken and waffles. Fried stuffed portobello caps and grilled chicken are also available.
The Chicago location is replacing an Eastman Egg Company location. That restaurant catered to morning train commuters, and so will Boxcar Betty’s, according to this location’s owner Abbott Smith. It’ll debut buttermilk biscuit sandwiches. Milkshakes are another new addition.
This location has room for 22 seats in its 1,725 square feet. Smith, a former VP at Potbelly, feels the quality of food is better than its competitors. The pickles are made in house. It uses the same chicken supplier as in South Carolina. The supplier, which Smith declined to disclose, has another facility closer to Chicago. Charleston writers have praised the plump chickens.
“I’ve always loved the South and been in the restaurant business for many years,” Smith said. “I have always looked to bring in an authentic, southern, quick-serve classic to Chicago. I kind of found [Boxcar Betty’s] and believed it was a neat concept.”
While Smith won’t disclose a number or estimate, the mini-chain should open more locations in the city and suburbs over the next couple of years. Meanwhile, stay tuned for an official opening date later this month for its first in Chicago.