Another chain focusing on chicken was starting to grow: Wingstop. As evidenced by the name, Wingstop's sole focus was on the chicken wing. When the guys from Wingstop tried to convince Howard to consider joining them, he was skeptical. "I wondered—that's it? Just the wing? How can you build an entire chain around the wing?" After he was finally convinced to visit Dallas and check out the chain, he saw lines of people around the building.
Howard spent 10 years working for Wingstop. During Howard's tenure, the chain grew from about 80 stores to more than 600 when he left (over 1,000 today). Tremendous growth also brought challenges. With the popularity of wings skyrocketing, the price of the product was also ballooning. Howard was concerned/ "When I said we have to do something and asked about other parts of the chicken, I almost lost my job," he says.
Eventually, Howard's colleagues came around and asked what he had in mind. His idea to widen the menu and include other parts of the chicken was ultimately adapted. Sales of the other chicken parts took off to where they became nearly equal to the wings. "Boneless put us in front of a whole new segment of people and was the ultimate win-win. It drove top-line sales and reduced the bottom line," Howard says.
With this success, Howard could have finished his career with Wingstop. However, he grew tired of traveling to Dallas from Florida every week and felt it was "time to get off the plane." Yet, Howard was not done with the chicken business.
"The Chicken Expert" was determined to find a chicken tender concept. Howard scoured the country for a chicken tender, "eating everyone I could find." Once he found the right chicken tender, he was going to start his own project or buy a small emerging chain near his home in Fort Laurderdale. It was at this point that Howard came across Huey Magoo's. After meeting with the owners, he along with some partners from Wingstop, bought majority control of Huey Magoo's.
At Huey Magoo's, the fast casual focuses on chicken tenders or the tenderloin—stop No. 4 around the bird. The chicken tenders are always fresh (steroid and hormone free) and are served hand-breaded and made to order or grilled which we marinate for 24 hours. Howard says of the tenders, "They're the best in the country. When I'm away from the restaurants, I can't wait to get back and have the food." While Howard is admittedly biased, Huey Magoo's was voted best Fried Chicken in Florida, according to Yahoo News.