Food & Drink

Ashley Christensen’s fried chicken sandwich concept will join Wegmans center in Raleigh

The golden age of the fried chicken sandwich will soon have a new local contender.

Chef Ashley Christensen will open the first of her new fast casual chicken spots next year in Raleigh’s Wegmans-anchored Midtown East shopping center.

The James Beard award-winning chef announced earlier this year that she was launching a new counter-service chicken sandwich chain in the Triangle. There will be locations in Durham’s upcoming University Hill development and Cary’s Parkside Commons. A Raleigh location was promised and now we know where, with the restaurant going in the Wake Forest Road development, just inside Raleigh’s Beltline.

All of a sudden, we’re living in the golden age of chicken sandwiches, with many local restaurants taking on Chick-Fil-A’s standard bearer and Popeye’s selling out of its new creation in a matter of days. Christensen has long offered various forms of chicken sandwiches at her downtown Raleigh restaurant Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, but is now branching out to Durham, Cary and the Raleigh suburbs.

For now the chicken chain is going by the top secret moniker “Project Xtra Crispy,” but the company says it’s still just a placeholder name.

Whatever it’s called, the new chicken sandwich spots will fall outside of Christensen’s AC Restaurants group, which just opened Poole’side Pies pizzeria earlier this month.

For the project, the chef has partnered with MDO Holdings, a company led by Michael Olander, Jr., the son of Eliza Kraft Olander, who was one of Christensen’s early investors when she opened Poole’s Diner in 2007.

In an email Tuesday morning announcing the new Raleigh location, company officials said the Midtown East spot will be the first of the three to open, in spring 2020.

The news drops during a big week for the shopping center, as the much anticipated Wegmans grocery story will hold its grand opening Sunday, Sept. 29 at 7 a.m.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.