Yellowbelly Chicken is out to conquer the suburbs, one fast-casual chicken joint at a time. But this month the company is doing a two-fer by unveiling locations in Arvada and Lakewood within a week of each other.
Yellowbelly was founded in Vail in 2012 by Michael Friedberg, Eric Wupperman and Barry Davis, who added a Boulder outpost a year later. Then in January of this year, the team moved into the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora. Not content with one new restaurant in 2017, Yellowbelly will debut at 7450 West 52nd Avenue in Arvada on Friday, December 8, and will follow up with a counter inside the Belmar Whole Foods Market, 444 South Wadsworth Boulevard, on Wednesday, December 13.
Friedberg, the chief marketing officer for the group, says that the company hasn't intentionally targeted outlying areas around Denver, but that Yellowbelly's mission fits well with the communities they've chosen. "Part of what we do is a shareable family meal, so we really love the family demographics in these areas," he explains.
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As for the Whole Foods partnership, Friedberg adds, "We've always had that quality of food, but we've haven't done the best job of conveying it. Yellowbelly's goal is to serve customers "healthier, cleaner versions of foods they already love," which includes locally sourced chicken free of antibiotics and hormones, gluten-free crust on the fried chicken, and plenty of vegan and vegetarian sides and salads.
Before the opening of the Stanley Marketplace location, Yellowbelly brought on Joe Serafin (one of the founders of Noodles & Company) as president, to help raise capital for future growth. The infusion of funds has changed the way Friedberg and his partners, who opened their first restaurant inside a former Taco Bell in Vail, see themselves today. "It's been fun going from being scrappy and making decisions based on what you can do to doing things that you want to do," he says.
Part of that, Friedberg notes, is focusing more on the customer experience in the front of the house while still making the food — under the direction of Wupperman, who's the executive chef — the primary attraction. Even the counter at Whole Foods will have its own seating, unlike previous vendors in that store.
So after moving into Boulder, Aurora, Arvada and Lakewood, will Yellowbelly finally target Denver itself? "We are actively looking for real estate," Friedberg says, but that doesn't necessarily mean in the city center. After all, there are still plenty of other suburbs to conquer.
The Arvada Yellowbelly Chicken will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily with dine-in, takeout and delivery options beginning December 8, while the Whole Foods Belmar location will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily beginning December 13. Show up for the Whole Foods opening between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. that day for a chance to win tickets to an invite-only Lumineers concert at the Bluebird Theater.