No chicken little

McComb businessman Buddy Powell, left, and Huey Magoo’s Chicken Tenders co-founder Matt Armstrong look over plans on Anna Drive on Tuesday.

Restaurant owner and land developer Buddy Powell is just about ready to serve up a fresh new dining option  to McComb.

He and Huey Magoo’s Chicken Tenders co-founder Matt Armstrong are planning a 2020 holiday season opening for the chicken strips restaurant being built on Anna Drive south of Powell’s Golden Corral.

Armstrong visited the construction site Tuesday with Powell to see the building’s progress.

They walked through the partially-finished restaurant, surveying work on the walls, door frames and air conditioning. They calmly looked over building plans in what will soon be a bustling kitchen.

“This is by far the biggest Huey Magoo’s in the system,” Armstrong said.

The building will be 3,700 square feet.

It is the first one built in Mississippi and the first one built from the ground up. The first free-standing Magoo’s calls Loganville, Ga., home, but it moved into a building that was already standing.

The McComb restaurant will also be the first one with a two-lane drive-thru, a pre-pandemic idea which Armstrong credits to Powell.

“He wanted to be able to be efficient,” Armstrong said, adding that Powell wanted to use the Anna Drive area because of its up-and-coming business popularity.

Joining Armstrong and Powell was Kristi Orr, Powell’s daughter. The father-daughter franchisee duo are co-owners of Love Me Tenders LLC, which they will use to bring 20 Huey Magoo’s restaurants to Mississippi.

Also viewing the site were Jeremiah Lorenz, who is set to be general manager of Huey Magoo’s in Pearl, and Aaron Jenkins, the Huey Magoo’s district manager for Mississippi.

There are plans for more Huey Magoo’s across the southeastern U.S., but it all started with one tenders restaurant across from the campus of University of Central Florida near Orlando in 2004.

“For the first 13 years we were just a small, little, local chicken restaurant. We were able to be successful enough at the local level to where we started attracting attention of entrepreneurs that had a vision for expansion,” Armstrong said.

“It also lent itself to visionary entrepreneurs like Buddy, who’s been willing to see our company as an opportunity in McComb and throughout the state of Mississippi, because we feel we have the best lineup of chicken products in the market.”

Powell vetted a slew of chicken tenders from other popular chains like Raising Cane’s and Zaxby’s, the latter of which will compete with Magoo’s on Anna Drive, about 1,000 feet away.

Powell liked Magoo’s the best and decided it was the one he wanted to bring to McComb.

Huey Magoo’s serves fried and grilled chicken tenders in a variety of seasonings and sauces, as well as sandwiches, wraps and salads.

One of the things that sets them apart from other chains is the policy to use only chicken marked as having had “no antibiotics ever,” an even more strictly monitored class than antibiotic free chicken, Armstrong said.

Magoo’s also uses no additives and no preservatives in its chicken.

Armstrong described the dining room’s atmosphere as “family style” and “fun to be in.”

“We encourage everyone to try it for themselves when we open. I think they’ll totally be of the opinion that it’s the best chicken tenders and dipping sauces that they’ve had,” Armstrong said.

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