Bouncing back

Retail and Consumer Products

On Dec. 12, 1992, Christian de Berdouaré, founder and CEO of Chicken Kitchen USA LLC, was working the lunch shift at the South Miami location of his restaurant when he was served with court papers and ordered to vacate the premises immediately. To make matters worse, armed guards escorted him out of the restaurant in full view of customers and employees. And as if that wasn’t enough, at 3 a.m., a sheriff awoke de Berdouaré to serve him with divorce papers.

While fighting for the right to visit his children, he was also fighting to regain control of his Chicken Kitchen concept and identity. Eventually, his ex-wife settled and bought out the interests in the restaurants, while de Berdouaré retained ownership of all intellectual property associated with the Chicken Kitchen concept.

All of this occurred after he successfully had restructured the company after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 1987 after expanding to five locations in New York City.

De Berdouaré was determined to succeed. He decided to raise funds with private investors in order to open a new showcase restaurant in a food court in a mall in North Miami. Eventually, the Chicken Kitchen Corp. was able to buy back the restaurants lost in the divorce and an additional franchised unit in West Dade County, converting all of them to the Chicken Kitchen concept.

However, in 2008, after hurricanes devastated the area and an economic recession loomed, stores began closing and de Berdouare feared the death of his concept. But again, he rose to the occasion and tweaked the product, menu and cooking process, eventually allowing him to bring back failing franchises.

How to reach: Chicken Kitchen USA LLC, (305) 892-7878 or