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Dirty Bird Fried Chxx acquired by investment firm, plans to expand to 30 new locations

Michael McHenry, founder of The McHenry Group and restauranteur behind Dirty Bird Fried Chxx in Provo, wipes down a table where food delivery orders are picked up with a sanitizing wipe at Ginger Street in Salt Lake City on April 3, 2020. The McHenry Group announced Friday that Dirty Bird Hot Chxx had been acquired by Wags Capital with plans to open as many as 30 new locations in the next year or so.

Michael McHenry, founder of The McHenry Group and restauranteur behind Dirty Bird Fried Chxx in Provo, wipes down a table where food delivery orders are picked up with a sanitizing wipe at Ginger Street in Salt Lake City on April 3, 2020. The McHenry Group announced Friday that Dirty Bird Hot Chxx had been acquired by Wags Capital with plans to open as many as 30 new locations in the next year or so. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)



SALT LAKE CITY — The McHenry Group, the progressive restaurant group behind Utah favorite Dirty Bird Fried Chxx, announced Friday that the Nashville-inspired hot chicken company had been acquired by Wags Capital with plans to scale and open as many as 30 new locations in the next year or so.

Wags Capital is an industry-leading boutique investment firm specializing in the food and beverage industry and the acquisition of emerging restaurant brands, and it has committed an investment of $20 million to the expansion effort.

"I can't think of a more perfect fit for the acquisition and growth of the Dirty Bird brand than Wags Capital," The McHenry Group founder Michael McHenry said in a press release. "This deal represents exactly what TMG was founded to do. From concept incubation to brand creation and launching of our first Dirty Bird in a 263-square-foot restaurant to a long line of passionate 'hot chxx' lovers, we were able to create a multimillion-dollar brand that promises it will only grow. I am thrilled to announce this news."

The original Dirty Bird location is in The Hut Food Hall in Provo, close to Brigham Young University campus. It has quickly grown into a bustling, popular place among both BYU and Utah Valley University students, as well as Provo residents and professionals. Its website describes the restaurant as "Nashville-inspired, hip, connective and pushing the culinary boundaries through southern hospitality and fried chicken."

A new location is scheduled to open in Ogden on Sept. 10, and both locations are actively hiring.

McHenry is a national award-winning restaurateur, known for taking restaurant brand concepts from startup to enterprise. The McHenry Group is also behind Ginger Street in Salt Lake City, and Oak Wood Fire Kitchen and Southside Pizza Co. in Draper, which have all been launched within the past three years. McHenry will retain a minority stake in the Dirty Bird brand.

"Wags Capital is one of the most progressive, creative investment firms in the country," said Wags Capital CEO Aaron Wagner. "With a TMG brand in our portfolio and a partnership with McHenry, we now have one of the most disruptive restaurant concepts in the industry within our fold. Dirty Bird Fried Chxx is a hot brand with the best 'hot chxx' in the country, combined with rich culture and scalable operations — that's a hard mix to find. This is a stand-out brand, and we believe the potential is immense."

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