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Korean Fried Chicken Shop To Take Over Former Protein House In Downtown Worcester

Worcester Business Journal
April 2024

Workers and residents in downtown Worcester will soon have a new option for lunch or dinner, as a Korean fried chicken restaurant is set to take over the former location of Protein House.

Cluck & Crispy Chicken is operated by Lin and Danny Li and expects to open in June. Lin owns Sachi Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar in Westborough and Hong Kong Island in Worcester, while Danny, her brother, owns three restaurants in Western Massachusetts.

Korean fried chicken, typically smaller, lighter, and crunchier than American versions of fried chicken, has grown in popularity in the United States in the past two decades. Bonchon, a South Korea-based chicken chain, opened its first United States location in 2006 and added 40 new stores in the country in 2023, according to a Bonchon press release issued in January.

The operators of Cluck & Crispy Chicken have desires for expansion, with the hope that the Worcester shop will be the first of many locations.

“We decided we’d like to become a national brand,” said Danny Li, who said the shop will be open for lunch and dinner and hopes to attract local residents and workers.

The property, located at 145 Front St., is owned by Veris Residential, a real estate investment trust based in New Jersey, which operates the 145 Front at City Square apartments in the building.

“In keeping with Veris Residential’s commitment to cultivating vibrant and purpose-driven communities, our team meticulously selects a diverse array of retail tenants in each of our properties, including Cluck & Crisp Chicken at 145 Front Street,” Abigail Renaud, senior manager of corporate communications for Veris, wrote in an email to WBJ. “Selections like these reflect the tenant’s capacity to offer valuable amenities while enhancing the overall living experience for our residents.”

Cluck & Crispy replaces Protein House, a health-focused chain serving menu items including salads, bowls, and wraps, which opened in April 2019 and closed the location in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Protein House operates a location in Marlborough’s Apex Center, one of 14 nationwide.

Todd Alexander and Tom Bodden of Kelleher & Sadowsky Associates in Worcester brokered the lease for Cluck & Crispy in the 145 Front St. building, which includes a branch from Leominster-based Fidelity Bank.

“This lease also comes on the heels of a long-term extension by Fidelity Bank, who is also now back to full operating hours after reducing them during the pandemic,” Bodden wrote in an email to WBJ. ”145 Front Street now only has two commercial/retail spaces remaining and maintains its high residential occupancy levels of over 95%.”

By Eric Casey


Todd Alexander


Tom Bodden

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