When Erick and Claudia Canales joined a routine Zoom call with their investment broker one late May evening, they didn’t expect their career dream — opening a restaurant on Guadalupe Street — to come true.
The couple, who moved from Mexico City, Mexico, to Austin in 2000, co-own the upcoming Austin location of Chick’nCone, a franchise that originated as a Manhattan food truck and now has eight locations nationwide.
Chick’nCone sells an Instagrammable meal: fried chicken in a waffle cone.
“It's like having an ice cream cone, but we're chicken,” Erick said. “Our slogan is a hashtag: #SoCluckinGood.”
Erick and Claudia said they chose to open the restaurant in Austin because of its vibrant and foodie-friendly atmosphere. Until a spot opened near the corner of 24th and Guadalupe streets, they didn’t think they could secure a location on the iconic strip known as “The Drag” by UT students.
“The Drag was never something that was really available,” Erick said. “It was kind of a wish, being on that street.”
Erick said they finished signing agreements with Chick’nCone in 2019 and were set to open in May 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the process. Now, they have a tentative opening date in late October.
At the beginning of last year, Erick said he saw a segment on the Food Network featuring Chick’nCone. He was looking for ways to expand his food-related investments beyond his co-ownership of a restaurant in Mexico City, and he saw Chick’nCone as an opportunity to do just that.
“When I got to know Chick’nCone … and ate there and sat there and saw the whole experience, I said, ‘This is something that is worth investing in,’” Erick said.
Karen De Amat, who is in charge of Chick’nCone’s marketing, said at the corporate level, the company ensures their franchise owners are family-oriented and community-minded people.
“Although it is a nationwide franchise, it is still very locally focused,” De Amat said. “It is their absolute mission to make everyone feel like you're the best customer they've ever had.”
Claudia, an emotional therapist with a background in psychology, said she and Erick want to make their restaurant friendly, enjoyable and comfortable for each customer.
“I think Chick’nCone will help people forget about their problems and stress,” Claudia said.
Claudia will manage the staff and customer service, while Erick will manage the business operations. This is the couple’s first time working together, and both Claudia and Erick said they complement each other.
“He is the brain, and I am the heart,” Claudia said. “People say it is difficult to work with your husband, but I don’t think like that. We make such a great team.”
To appeal to UT students, the duo said that in addition to the six traditional Chick’nCone flavors — Cinna-Maple, Yella BBQ, Traditional BBQ, Kick’n Ranch, Buffalo Blue and Peri Peri — they are likely creating a vegan option.
“We're on The Drag, so the students are always looking for healthier options,” Erick said. “We're using air fryers so that we don't cook with grease, and the flavor is amazing, not compromised.”
Claudia and Erick said they are eager to hop on board with Chick’nCone and begin serving UT students.
“I’m so excited. I want to open right now,” Claudia said. “You just have to jump into the water, do what makes you happy and pursue your dreams.”