No bones about it: The three-piece chicken deal is out at Federal Donuts.
The popular Philadelphia chain, built on a menu of doughnuts, fried chicken, and coffee, has introduced twice-fried chicken tenders as it has ditched the long-standing thigh, breast, and drumstick combination.
It’s a labor issue, said Steve Cook, a partner with Michael Solomonov, Tom Henneman, Bob Logue, and Felicia D’Ambrosio. “The bone-in chicken is great, but it’s a lot of labor and just a tiny percentage of our sales at this point,” he said.
Federal Donuts offered whole and half birds for its October 2011 premiere at its first shop, in Pennsport.
The fried, boneless chicken breast sandwich, introduced in 2015, “proceeded to eat the menu,” Cook said. Soon, the chicken sandwich became the top-selling single item. Seasoned, twice-fried chicken wings landed on the menu permanently in 2016, “and they further crowded out the three-piece,” he said.
“We’ve wanted to do tenders for years,” Cook said.
After much trial and error, “we finally cracked the code,” Henneman said during a taste test last week at the chain’s shop near 18th Street and Ben Franklin Parkway.
FedNuts’ chicken complement is now the sandwich, wings, fried chicken salad (which debuted in 2021), and tenders, which are sold three to an order for $9.50, including two dipping sauces. There are also four new sauce options: Everything Rooster (house spicy mayo with pickled “everything” spice), coffee barbecue, Buffalo, and honey mustard to round out the existing chili garlic, sweet soy, ranch, and Rooster.
As for managing the volatile (and higher) price of boneless chicken, Cook said, “We’re going to play the long game. Prices will eventually stabilize.”
The tenders’ debut follows last week’s opening of the chain’s eighth location, at 1909 Sansom St., which seats 26 at the counter, schoolhouse-style desks, and dining tables. It is next door to Goldie, the falafel shop owned by Solomonov and Cook.