Boston Market closes 10 percent of stores in crowded rotisserie chicken field

Photo: Boston Globe (Getty Images)

Since the mid-1980s, Boston Market (formerly known as Boston Chicken) has made its hay on the strength of a simple, delicious centerpiece item: takeout rotisserie chicken. No longer did you have to wait at a more expensive dine-in establishment to enjoy a well-cooked bird; in just a few minutes, often spent in a drive-thru, you could take home a full chicken, rotini mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, and anything else you could want from a hearty meal.

However, the inevitable endgame of introducing a market innovation is watching rival businesses steal it as quickly as possible. Accordingly, Boston Market found itself competing with companies from Costco to Whole Foods to your average local grocer in the full-chicken space over time, struggling to retain its grip on a trend it helped usher in. Now, as reported by Nation’s Restaurant News, the chain has closed 10 percent of its remaining 454 stores, or 45 in total, as of July 7th.

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After reporting a 1.7% revenue drop from 2017 to 2018, the chain will recalibrate. CEO Frances Allen notes in a statement on the closures that “We must take steps to ensure our operational structure will support long-term sustainability... Part of that effort involves continuously analyzing our geographic footprint and real estate portfolio to assess the ongoing viability of locations.”

While the restaurants have already closed, Allen acknowledged that “all displaced employees would either receive employment opportunities from other stores or would receive a severance package.” Good on you, Boston Market. In the meantime, there are still over 400 U.S. locations at which to sample their excellent chicken, or even their prime rib.

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