A popular Columbia restaurant will soon debut a second concept focused exclusively on delivery.
The team behind Coley's American Bistro has announced plans to launch Brassy Bird, a new virtual brand specializing in fried chicken sandwiches.
Owner Brian Coley says he read about the trend of virtual brands and ghost kitchens in bigger cities across the country and decided it would be a perfect way for his restaurant to pivot amid the pandemic. Although he already has a second virtual brand lined up, for his first, he decided to go with a classic.
It's a go-to solution for chefs looking to make their menus more approachable in the age of to-go dining.
"We make a fried chicken sandwich at Coley’s that is fantastic," he says. "Fried chicken is also something that has been trending in the industry in the past year or two, so it just kind of felt natural. We’ve put a lot of tender love and care into making that fried chicken sandwich every time, and that’s why we decided to roll with that."
Brassy Bird's menu is short and sweet, featuring a handful of fried chicken sandwiches, entrée-sized salads and sides including potato chips and a chopped salad. Coley is particularly excited about the torta, which comes with avocado, slaw, cilantro, pickled red onions, lime crema, queso fresco and pickled jalapeños on a hoagie; the "simple but amazing" Brunchy Bird with Brie, sliced apple and honey; and the spicy barbecue sandwich topped with pickled jalapeños, honey chipotle and creamy garlic slaw.
"It’s kind of a take on that western burger that you can find at different chains, but the way we prepare the sandwich, the ingredients that we use to top the sandwich, is just that next level," he says of the latter. "It’s a $10 sandwich; it’s not a $3 drive-thru sandwich."
Traditionalists can also opt for a classic hot chicken sandwich with housemade ranch, pickles and creamy garlic slaw – a carryover from Coley's that he says is so good, it deserved a spot on both menus. "The hot chicken sandwich is fantastic," he says. "It’s not super spicy; it’s not burn your face off. We ran with the hot chicken sandwich that’s on Coley’s menu and churched it up a bit to make it something different."
Salads come topped with fried chicken, naturally, ranging from a classic Cobb to a seasonal cranberry pecan number with spinach, Craisins, goat cheese, candied pecans and maple-balsamic dressing.
Delivery apps have been popular this year, but they typically charge restaurants around a 30 percent commission in fees in an industry where profit margins hover at 3 to 5 percent.
The lunchtime-only concept will offer delivery through Grubhub, but Coley stresses the importance of diners placing their order directly through Brassy Bird to help the restaurant avoid excessive third-party delivery commission fees.
"There’s a lot of emphasis right now on people wanting to support local restaurants and shop local because we’re hurting," he says. "With the third-party delivery partners that we all use, they really cut into our margins. The key thing is if you’re going to order from your local favorite restaurant, go to their website [first]. If you go to Coley’s and click 'order delivery' and use my website to go to GrubHub and then order, it saves a crazy amount of money on our end."