• Member Spotlight: Chick'n Cone

  • Member Spotlight: Chick'n Cone

    Member Spotlight: Chick'n Cone

    The first thing you notice is the sweet smell of the freshly cooked waffle cones. The second thing you notice is the warm smile and friendly greeting from owner Michael Vaz and his team. He and his wife, Chelena Hopkins, opened the franchise in Winter Park this past Saturday, April 30. After less than a week in business, the couple is very grateful for the community’s support of their new business. “We had a great opening weekend. A lot of people came out to support us, and we’re humbled by the openness and support of the community,” says Michael. He also is feeling much gratitude for the number of 5-star reviews on Google.

    The concept – bite-sized chicken tenders served in a waffle cone with your choice of sauce – is a novel take on chicken. Started as a food truck in 2014, the concept moved to a brick-and-mortar store and then started franchising the business. Michael went to the grand opening of a location in New York and was blown away by the concept. After a lot of research on his end, he knew it was a business that he wanted to be a part of. Michael and Chelena were both nonprofit professionals in New York but were looking to make a change. “As nonprofit professionals, we wanted a business that aligned with our goals to give back and serve the community,” says Michael. Their journey to owning the first Chick’n Cone in Central Florida, and one of only 30 in the country, started in March of 2021. Delays, lengthy lease negotiations and supply chain issues prolonged their anticipated launch, but to finally see their dream become a reality has more than made the long hours and hard work worth it.

    They have already partnered with several local nonprofits to support and give back, including JFS Orlando, The Faine House, BAM Orlando, and Hannibal Square Heritage Center. Giving back is important to them, and Michael says they’ve been incredibly fortunate to have been given help when they needed it. “So many people asked us along the way, ‘How can I help? What can I do?’” he says.

    The steady stream of customers so far has been a welcome sight, and Michael and Chelena are planning to be ever present and involved. “We want to be here as much as possible welcoming customers and neighbors. We want them to get to know us and our restaurant and feel comfortable being here,” he says. Having an aesthetically pleasing interior is also important to them, and Michael says they had to buck some of the corporate recommendations on design to create a restaurant that had a more tasteful look that would better fit with Winter Park’s style. As for the most popular item on the menu, which also includes chicken tenders, a chicken sandwich, shakes, fries, and mac and cheese, the chick’n cone is the big hit, with yella BBQ and Buffalo blue being the two most requested sauces out of the six varieties. 
    Chick’n Cone is located at 501 N. Orlando Ave., Suite 243, Winter Park.

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