The rise of chicken chains in Indianapolis, IN

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Americans eat twice as much chicken as they did in the 70s, according to Vox — and we’re seeing an egg-stensive list of chicken chains pop up in the Circle City.

Whether it’s hot chicken, chicken wings, or fried tenders, the bird is most certainly the word. So why Indy + why now?

A tray with a hot chicken sandwich and fries

World Famous Hotboys opened Peppy’s Grill’s old spot in Fountain Square. | Photo via @wwdeatnext

The plot chickens

What came first, the chicken or the chain? Outside of the regular KFC, Popeyes, Church’s Chicken, Chick-fil-A + Zaxby’s, we’ve seen smaller chains like Dave’s Hot Chicken and Slim Chickens begin nesting in Indy. In fact, Dave’s is said to be the fastest growing restaurant in the country.

It’s hard to say what started this trend locally, but we have a few guesses.

  1. When one chain came to roost, the rest began to flock. Joella’s has seen big success in Indy since it opened in 2018 with five locations in the state now, proving Hoosiers are open to a little spice.
  2. It all goes back to the Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019. When Popeyes came out as a winner (yes, I said what I said), it got people all over the country talking chicken, including Hoosiers.
  3. Maybe it’s our roots catching up to us. He may be the colonel of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but we all know Harland Sanders is from the Hoosier state.

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Feeling peckish?

Like we said, there are a lot of chicken joints to choose from. Just take a look at our interactive map.

Here’s a running list of chicken chains (and their origins) in the city.


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