Morgan Spurlock is set to open Holy Chicken! in Columbus. Credit: Courtesy of TJ Vissing

Morgan Spurlock is set to open Holy Chicken! in Columbus. Credit: Courtesy of TJ Vissing

Director, writer and producer Morgan Spurlock is testing his newest venture in Columbus. The restaurant Holy Chicken! is the passion project of former “Super Size Me” director and star.

The restaurant opens on Saturday with the mantra “honesty never tasted so good.” Spurlock will cut the ribbon during the grand opening and will be present for the restaurant’s first four days of business.

Spurlock said he was inspired to offer a restaurant that is completely honest with its customers in what it serves while simultaneously giving them what they want in a meal. This inspiration resulted from Spurlock’s breakout hit “Super Size Me,” which followed his experience eating solely McDonald’s for one month.

“(‘Supersize Me’) enabled us to do so many other things that got people to look at the world differently (and) to question the choices they made,” he said. “Out of that experience, this seed never would have been planted.”

“Holy Chicken!” uses free-range chickens that Spurlock said are ethically raised in Alabama. He emphasized the importance of the customer knowing where their food comes from and the transformative experience that he said the restaurant offers.

“(Most people) have no idea what they’re being fed (or) what goes into it (and) they have no clue where it comes from,”  Spurlock said. “We’ve taken that quality to a different level with chicken because now it’s not just the quality. It’s the honesty; it’s the integrity; it’s the transparency; it’s the story we tell as part of the restaurant and the creation of the food.”

Columbus was chosen for the first Holy Chicken! restaurant due to its reputation as a key test market. The city is a place that is both emblematic and representative of the rest of America, Spurlock said, due to its ethnic and economic diversity, among other reasons. Spurlock also said he chose Columbus because he is very comfortable here, and has visited many times including for the filming an episode of his TV series “30 Days.”

Gigi Silver, a fourth-year in marketing, also said that Columbus has become a key test market for “fast-casual” restaurants, which she described as restaurants with affordable yet high-quality food. Silver learned about this concept through a research project at the Fisher College of Business that involved a partnership with the restaurant Noodles & Company. She said the geographic location and weather are also key factors for why Columbus is often chosen to test new restaurant concepts.

“Columbus is less cold than Cleveland and Chicago and that makes a difference when you’re getting products from trucks to different locations,” Silver said. “There’s been a shift to places like Columbus and Nashville because it’s a little warmer and easily accessible for people especially in terms of transportation.”

Saturday through Tuesday, the first 20 people each day who “pay homage” to the holy chicken will receive a free meal. This could include wearing a chicken costume or even having a chicken tattoo, Spurlock said.

“It’s going to be unlike any fast-food experience anyone’s ever had,” he said. “It’s going to be the most honest fast food experience (and) the most transparent fast-food experience … I think all the Buckeyes should come up and check it out.”

Holy Chicken! At 2405 Schrock Rd. is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, starting Saturday.