The San Francisco 49ers Invest in Nation’s First Organic Fast Food Chicken Chain

organic coup
Image care of the Organic Coup

The San Francisco 49ers have announced their investment in the Organic Coup, the first USDA organic certified fast food chicken chain in the U.S. The certification means that at least 95 percent of the ingredients used by the chain are certified organic.

The first Organic Coup opened in Pleasanton, California, two years ago. There are now 11 locations across the state, with plans to open branches in the Seattle area as well as a seventh San Francisco location. Co-founder Erica Welton estimates that in the next two years, the number of Organic Coup locations will skyrocket to 30.

The terms of the 49ers’ investment in the fast food chain are “undisclosed,” reports Eater, but the outlet does note that the company “won favor” with 49ers’ leadership at the club level at Levi’s Stadium and will now be available throughout the stadium during games.

“We do very very well in high traffic areas and we’re very fast, so we can service that stadium or arena customer and give them high quality,” Welton tells Eater.

The chain’s menu is short and to the point, featuring its specialty spicy fried chicken, made with organic Mary’s Chicken chicken breasts fried with coconut oil, in sandwich, wrap, or bowl form with “organic spicy veggies.” The chicken is Non-GMO Project verified and received a Step 3 rating from the Global Animal Partnership.

The chain also offers chicken tenders, tater tots, popcorn, and a small breakfast menu with a wrap, egg bowl, and açai bowl. The chain sources its ingredients local suppliers, albeit “fairly large” ones, according to Welton.

This small menu may be the key to its success, according to Living Maxwell. In June of last year, when the chain only had two locations, the outlet called the Organic Coup “one of the organic industry’s most important companies,” due to its scalability.

“Scalability, especially as it relates to a certified organic restaurant, is all about the menu,” writes Living Maxwell. “The fewer the ingredients, the easier it is to execute from an operational perspective.”

Organic Coup also gained widespread attention last year when it was announced that it would be paying starting wages of $16 an hour in San Francisco and $14 an hour in Pleasanton, as compared to the average of $7.98, reports Business Insider.

The chain is largely funded by two former Costco executives: co-founder and former CEO Jim Sinegal and CFO Richard Galanti. Welton herself was a Costco food buyer for 12 years, and her co-founder, Dennis Hoover, spent 30 years as a Costco executive, something that Eater points to as a key to the chain’s fast growth.

In 2015, Costco surpassed Whole Foods in organic food sales, reporting $4 billion as compared to $3.5 billion at Whole Foods.

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.