Birds of a Feather Truck Together

Trevor+Umbinetti%2C+The+Spectator

Trevor Umbinetti, The Spectator

Ezell’s Express is about to spice things up in the food truck realm.

Since opening 29 years ago in Seattle, Ezell’s Famous Chicken has built a solid reputation for delivering “fresh, good and fast” fried chicken. So good, that Oprah Winfrey herself said, “It’s the best chicken I’ve ever had in my life.”

Ezell’s has built itself up, becoming a household name in Seattle with seven locations throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Soon enough, the Pacific Northwest won’t be the only place people can taste the chain’s glorious
fried chicken.

A fleet of food trucks called Ezell’s Express is on its way. The first Ezell’s food truck will debut in April.

The Seattle Times reported, “[Ezell’s Express is] part of the expansion of the…chain that includes an upcoming brick-and-mortar franchise in Dubai, a couple local franchise outlets, and plans for many more, partnering with a former Cinnabon CEO.”

Phylicia Davidson, daughter of Ezell’s co-founder Lewis Rudd, and her cousin Jennifer Stephens began working at Ezell’s at a young age and are now in charge of the food
truck franchise.

“We’ve been a Seattle favorite for 29 years now. The product is already there but we just wanted to reach out to a lot of people who we haven’t yet,” said Davidson. “With the food truck it gives us a lot more freedom as far as moving around… We can have a little more fun with it, allow the community to be more interactive.”

Stephens agreed.

“There’s a lot of world that Ezell’s hasn’t hit yet, so we want to branch out to a lot of people,” said Stephens.

This is exciting news for many of Ezell’s long-time customers, like Seattle University sophomore Elizabeth Smith. Smith has been eating Ezell’s chicken since 2008 and has loved it since the first bite.

“I actually came back to my apartment and told everyone… We were all very excited and hope that Seattle U would consider bringing it on campus just like they have the grilled cheese truck,” said Smith. “I’m hoping other people catch on to what great chicken it is, especially in the Northwest. We don’t get a great amount of original, fresh, southern fried chicken.”

Dave Lake, an Ezell’s customer for several years, thinks food trucks can help Ezell’s expand.

“You can hit communities that you can’t ordinarily be in, so people who might not live close to any of their retail locations can try the food and experience the magic,” said Lake.

Just as it says in the name, Ezell’s Express will have an abbreviated menu with a smaller selection than what the permanent restaurant locations have to offer.

“We kind of created the menu to be quicker than the restaurant because that is one of the main complaints that people have about food trucks is the long lines and the waiting,” Stephens said.

Despite the smaller menu, the food served at the trucks will be just as high in quality and this could help the company reel in new customers, inspiring them to visit the
permanent locations.

“So it’s giving them a taste. We’re still pulling them into the restaurant,” Davidson said.

The food trucks could appear anywhere from Bellevue to Spokane. Eventually, Davidson and Stephens plan to take the franchise out of state and set up restaurants and trucks in neighboring states like Oregon
and California.

They are also keeping their options open—the trucks might cater and make stops at sporting events.

But Ezell’s Express locations will be influenced primarily by community response. Currently, the duo is actively interacting with the Seattle community via Facebook and Twitter. There will also be a website that will keep customers updated and serve as another platform through which to interact with Ezell’s Express.

“It’s really up to the community to reach out to us as well as we reach out to them on where they want to have us be,” Stephens said.

Davidson and Stephens will be open to all feedback so that they can ensure they are delivering what the community wants.

“When you go to a food truck, you’re looking for a new experience and that’s what we hope to bring,” Davidson said. “Just a twist on an old favorite.”