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South London’s Iconic Fried Chicken Chain Is Expanding, Big Style

Morley’s wants to overtake KFC, with plans to go not just to north London, but the north of England in 2021

Life In The London Borough Of Lewisham Amid Coronavirus Pandemic Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

South London’s iconic fried chicken shop, Morley’s, is on a major expansion drive, with new sites having opened in Finsbury Park and Brick Lane in the past week, and with tentative plans to open new shops in Leeds, Newcastle, and Brighton in 2021.

Undeterred by the pandemic, owner Shan Selvendran, whose father Kannalingam “Indran” founded Morley’s in Sydenham 35 years ago, told i News today that the time “felt right” to expand: “It’s taken months of planning, but I’m confident. When it comes to fried chicken, I want to be the number one in the U.K. I don’t care who — we want to be bigger than KFC, Wingstop, anyone,” he said.

Morley’s now has 63 sites in total; all but the original site in Sydenham, which Selvendran part-owns, are franchised. Part of its appeal is said to come from the use of rapeseed oil in the frying process, a high-smoke point oil, which delivers crunch over grease.

Much has been made of the expansion north of the river, since the brand is synonymous with south London — the Thornton Heath shop featured in musician Stormzy’s video for the single Big for your Boots in 2019. While the restaurant locations page on Morley’s website is incomplete, the brand does have at least one site north of the river already — in Highams Park.

Wikipedia says that Morley’s opened two sites in the north east of England in 2020 — in Stockton-on-Tees and Hartlepool.

In Eater London’s guide to the city’s best fried chicken, Jonathan Hatchman writes:

A south London institution, Morley’s was launched in 1985. The company has since grown exponentially, with more than 30 franchises, mostly south of the river. A quintessential London chicken shop with its red neon signage, vividly lit interior and late opening hours, Morley’s numerous outposts champion competitively cheap fried chicken and sticky barbecue ribs. Morley’s fried chicken is liberally spiced with a secret blend of spices, far superior to big-named high street rivals. You’ll also struggle to spend more than £5 per head.

More soon.