Layne’s Chicken Fingers to debut in Tucson | Dining

By Karen Schaffner, Inside Tucson Business Staff
7 Min Read

Josh Orellana left a career in lucrative investment banking to risk his fortune and future on a restaurant franchise for an interesting reason.

“You go to college, you graduate,” he said.

“Then I went to Wall Street. I want to be kind about my colleagues and not throw them under the bus, because they’re great human beings. It’s so interesting because you go into an investment bank or a technology startup and they’re some of the smartest people alive but for some reason they’re just not very happy.”

Former investment-banker-turned-entrepreneur Josh Orellana.

That’s when Orellana decided to go into the fried chicken business. He is bringing the Texas franchise Layne’s Chicken Fingers to Tucson. When its doors open in last spring, it will be the first Layne’s in Arizona.

Why Layne’s? Orellana has happy memories of spending his undergraduate degree work in College Station, Texas, and being an underdog. In College Station, there was the local outfit, Layne’s and Raising Cane’s.

“You find Raising Cane’s (Chicken Fingers) all across the U.S. now, but when I was in college it was a big rivalry,” said Orellana, who originally wanted to open a Church’s Texas Chicken in Nogales.

“You’re a Layne’s guy or a Cane’s guy, and it’s something you were religious about. If you’re somebody who roots for the underdog like I do, I was always going to be a Layne guy.”

Not that he didn’t like Raising Cane’s.

“Raising Cane’s is great, too,” Orellana said. “Don’t get me wrong; I eat there when I get the chance, but I’ll always have that argument going on in my head: Are you a Layne’s guy or a Cane’s guy? Being able to go to Layne’s, I historically didn’t think it was ever going to be an option.”

Orellana’s interest in owning a franchise restaurant comes from example. When he was in high school, he spent time with people in the food industry and restaurateurs in the area.

Happiness is a big part of what drives Orellana. He talked about the lack of happy people in his former job and in the same breath discussed about bringing a bit of happiness to others with his new business.

“I can go get (Layne’s) now and not only can I get it for myself, I can share those memories with my new family here in Arizona,” he said.

There’s also the satisfaction of working with young people; he likes their energy. Orellana is hoping he can mentor others as he was when he was young and eventually help someone get their own restaurant.

“If you’re somebody who’s done your full career arc like myself, and you now have the ability to impart a lot of knowledge to younger people who are starting a career, it’s like one of the most important things you can do,” Orellana said.

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Layne’s Chicken Sandwich is made with three fingers, American cheese and sauce. Customers may also order it with bacon.

It comes at a cost, however. Opening a franchise is expensive. Right out of the gate, there’s trying to get a franchise to be interested in him.

“When I would call a Popeyes franchisee or a KFC franchisee, if you say, ‘Just give me a number, any number, as wild as it is and I’ll try and make it happen,’ they won’t even give you a number,” he said. “Why is that? That’s very shocking.’

It turns out there are a lot of people who want a restaurant franchise.

“The reality is they’re a very attractive investment because they’re really nailed down,” Orellana said. “It has inflation protection like real estate and it also has very consistent returns like a bond, and as long as you’re willing to put in the work you can also open more locations. It’s like you get the best of all flavors as long as you’re willing to put in the work.”

Then there’s trying to get the bank to buy in. Orellana had substantial savings and he figured he only needed a loan for $50,000. Why couldn’t he get that from a bank? At 41 years old, Orellana was said to be too young. They said he needed four years of entrepreneurship experience.


Besides the usual soft drinks, Layne’s Chicken Fingers has milkshakes that come in five flavors. Shown here are strawberry, vanilla and chocolate.

“You want to put guard rails in place, but at the same time, if you put too many in place you shut the door to entrepreneurship to great people,” he said. “It’s very disheartening … and I think that’s very unfortunate because I think that entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of the U.S.”

Orellana persisted, and now he’s seeking a location in Tucson, build or remodel a facility, hire staff, order supplies and myriad other tasks. In other words, lots of work ahead of him.

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By Karen Schaffner, Inside Tucson Business Staff , – Vivrr Local Results in dining of type article , 2024-02-23 07:00:00
Tags: laynes chicken fingers, josh orellana, tucson restaurants, tucson restaurant news, places to eat in tucson, tucson dining

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