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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jul. 29, 202105:20 AM EST

Huey Magoo’s Chicken Tenders has plans for 9 Northeast Florida locations

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The CEO of the Orlando-based restaurant says Duval and St. Johns franchise owners are “working hard to get stores open.”

Huey Magoo’s Chicken Tenders franchisees are working on three locations in Jacksonville and two in St. Johns County, with plans for more.

The three Jacksonville sites are in Jacksonville Beach, Mandarin and Arlington. The St. Johns locations are along U.S. 1 and in Beachwalk.

Three more are expected in Duval and at least one more in St. Johns, for nine total.

There are separate franchise groups for Duval and St. Johns counties.

Andy Howard, president and CEO of Orlando-based Huey Magoo’s Restaurants.

Both are aggressively looking. Both are working hard to get the stores open,” said Andy Howard, president and CEO of Orlando-based Huey Magoo’s Restaurants.

“We have a lot of confidence in Northeast Florida,” Howard said July 26.

Howard said the area is densely populated and near the chain’s headquarters. He said University of Central Florida graduates in Jacksonville are familiar with the brand.

“We’ve had the Jacksonville market on our radar for many, many years,” Howard said.

Huey Magoo’s features grilled, hand-breaded or “sauced” chicken tenders, salads, sandwiches and wraps. It says its tenders are made fresh with no antibiotics, hormones, steroids or preservatives. 

The chain offers dine-in, takeout, delivery through third-party services, drive-thru and curbside pickup, depending on the site. 

Michael Phillips, a former franchisee for Little Caesars Pizza and Jersey Mike’s Subs, holds the rights for Huey Magoo’s in Duval County, where he intends to open six units.

The five-piece chicken tender meal at Huey Magoo’s. The chain has a total of 18 restaurants in Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

Through Birdbox Ventures LLC, he has active projects at the Beaches and in Mandarin and Arlington.

• In Jacksonville Beach, Phillips intends to open Huey Magoo’s in September in a leased 1,600-square-foot space at 3952 S. Third St. in the South Beach Regional shopping center.

The space is an end unit with a pickup window. It is in the section of stores anchored by The Home Depot.

Birdbox Ventures filed a notice of commencement with the Duval County Clerk of Courts for Kaneco Construction LLC to remodel the space.

The restaurant will be the 20th for Huey Magoo’s.

• In Mandarin, Birdbox Holdings LLC, Phillips’ development company, paid $915,000 on May 11 for an almost 1-acre former bank site at 10560 Old St. Augustine Road, at Hartley Road. 

121 Financial Credit Union issued two mortgages totaling $1.7 million.

The city calculated a mobility fee of $65,082 for a 38-seat restaurant. Phillips intends to redevelop the 4,000-square-foot building for two tenants, comprising a 2,500-square-foot Huey Magoo’s drive-thru unit and a 1,500-square-foot retail user.

Some Huey Magoo’s are end units of shopping centers.

He wants to open the restaurant Jan. 1.

• In Arlington, Phillips said he has a building under contract near Jacksonville University, but declined to say where. 

He intends to open it in late spring.

“For the next three we are seeking spaces in Duval where we think we will have a good fit,” he said, mentioning Bartram Park and Southside.

He is looking at land, existing free-standing buildings and leasable space.

“I am trying to purchase as much real estate as I can with this venture” Phillips said.

Phillips, also vice president of retail transactions with Jacksonville-based Prime Realty, is working with the St. Johns County franchisee to identify sites, as well as with other local and national concepts.

In January, Huey Magoo’s announced it will open three restaurants in St. Johns County, but did not say where.

The St. Johns franchise group, BMZ of St Johns LLC,  is owned by Michael Benedict, Bobby Zitzka and operating partners Josh and Sarah Miller.

Benedict formed companies to buy the properties and lease them to the franchise group.

He said July 27 BMZ will lease both the former Krystal at 2490 U.S. 1 S. and the Beachwalk property. 

Both of those Huey Magoo’s will have drive-thrus. 

• At the U.S. 1 site, Benedict hopes to open Huey Magoo’s this year.

“We are finalizing all of the plans and will be going to bid early next week,” he said.

Refluctions 75 LLC, led by Benedict, paid $1.4 million on July 9 for the property, a 2,555-square-foot building developed in 1998 on 1.08 acres. 

The group will remodel the closed Krystal for Huey Magoo’s.

• At Beachwalk along County Road 210, HCSH Land Holdings LLC, comprising Benedict and Zitzka, has property under contract to build a two-tenant building that will include a Jimmy Hula’s restaurant.

Benedict hopes to open near the end of 2022.

Benedict and Zitzka also are partners in ParkerStark Management, which owns the master franchise rights for Jimmy Hula’s along the east coast of Florida. 

As the master franchisor, ParkerStark can grant territories and franchises.

Benedict also is building a Jimmy Hula’s at 709 S. Ponce de Leon Road in St. Augustine.

The operating partner for both Jimmy Hula’s is Charles Bernard.

Benedict said each Huey Magoo’s will be 2,200 to 2,500 square feet. Each Jimmy Hula’s will be about 3,500 square feet.

The groups plan to build a minimum of three of each concept in the St.  Johns County area.

Offerings at Huey Magoo’s include sandwiches, salads, wraps and tenders.

Benedict is CEO of Benedict Advertising, based in Port Orange.

Huey Magoo’s said June 16 it has sold 200 franchises in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina and Ohio.

It said its 2021 grand openings include the Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach restaurants and in St. Augustine. 

Huey Magoo’s has 18 restaurants open, comprising 14 in Florida, three in Georgia and one in Mississippi. Most of the Florida restaurants are in the Orlando area.

Matt “Huey” Armstrong and Thad “Magoo” Hudgens founded Huey Magoo’s in 2004, using their childhood nicknames.

Howard, a 10-year Wingstop veteran, said he bought the company five years ago.

“My whole vision was to find a business model development like Wingstop with chicken tenders,” he said.

He expanded the model of inline strip centers to stand-alones and, importantly, drive-thrus.

Howard said franchisees choose their locations and invest about $650,000 to $2 million to develop their restaurants, depending on whether they lease the locations or buy and develop.

He said Huey Magoo’s continues to sell franchises, and that Clay County is available.

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