Halal hot chicken chain coming to Vienna in first step of N. Va. expansion

The Red Bird, a hot chicken chain, is coming soon to Vienna’s Cedar Park Shopping Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 10:35 a.m. on 10/11/2023) A fledgling hot chicken chain with ambitions of becoming “the next Chick-fil-A” is flocking to Northern Virginia, starting with the Town of Vienna.

Signs for The Red Bird recently emerged in the windows of the former McDonald’s at the Cedar Park Shopping Center, which hasn’t yet identified the new tenant on its site plan. Mickey D’s abruptly vacated the 1,353-square-foot space last summer after more than a decade there.

The Red Bird anticipates opening its new restaurant at 282 Cedar Lane in November, kicking off plans to expand throughout the region, the fast-food company’s Northern Virginia operator, Tariq Diab, says.

“We couldn’t think of a better first location for this area than Vienna due to its heavily diverse population,” Diab said, calling the shopping center’s owner, First Washington Realty, “really instrumental” to securing the location.

“They chose The Red Bird because they believe in the mission of our company and in the affordable yet insanely delicious, all natural and halal food,” he added.

While this will be The Red Bird’s first permanent restaurant in Northern Virginia, the company started operating in the area out of a ghost kitchen, and it has held pop-ups in Virginia and D.C. Diab says “fans went insane for the food and flavor profile.”

Started last year in Los Angeles, California, the eatery will join an increasingly crowded market for hot chicken, the spicy, fried specialty of Nashville, Tennessee, that was allegedly first concocted by a woman exacting revenge on a man who cheated on her.

Over the past couple of years, Fairfax County has welcomed Roaming Rooster, Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken and Dave’s Hot Chicken. In fact, all three chains now have locations in Tysons, though Hangry Joe’s is still “coming soon.”

Still, Diab is confident that The Red Bird’s commitment to freshly made, halal food will help it stand out.

“The words HALAL are built into our signage, not taped to the door on a piece of printer paper, and our famous sauces, rubs and products contain zero preservatives,” he said by email. “Everything is fresh and made to order as you will never see heat lamps in our locations.”

According to the company’s website, its chicken tenders are marinated in a “world-famous Red’s Chicken Rub” before getting coated in homemade breading and fried in “all-natural oil.” The final touch is a “dusting of Red’s secret ‘Red Rub.’”

Spice levels range from mild to the provocatively named “Fck You Cra.” With prices topping out at $9.99, the menu consists of chicken tenders and sandwich combos, a chicken rice bowl and chicken cheese fries, along with sides of fries, cole slaw and mac and cheese.

When the Vienna location opens, it will offer free sandwiches to the first 1,000 guests, according to Diab.

A Reston franchise is also in the works, and The Red Bird is actively negotiating leases for locations in Falls Church, Ashburn and Arlington, Diab says.

Read more on FFXnow…

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