Ashley Christensen to Open a Multi-Unit Concept with Locations Around the Triangle

Christensen is partnering with MDO Holdings to open at least three fast-casual chicken sandwich restaurants throughout the Triangle before the end of 2020.

RALEIGH, NC – Chef Ashley Christensen, who has gained national acclaim as the chef of Poole’s Diner, is bringing her signature fried chicken to new parts of the Triangle in 2020.

The renowned chef has entered a partnership with MDO Holdings to create a new fast-casual chicken sandwich restaurant. Christensen has been working to craft the menu which currently features five unique iterations of chicken sandwiches, three flavorful sides, two salads, spun-to-order milkshakes and delicious fried pies. The restaurants will also serve beer and wine on tap and by the bottle.

“I have often thought about the right way to expand our reach beyond downtown, and this felt like the perfect opportunity. We are excited to bring the approachable, universally comforting flavor of chicken sandwiches to a larger audience, and to bring our cultural approach to a new model of restaurants.” stated co-owner, Ashley Christensen.

The first two locations to be announced are in Durham’s new University Hill Shopping Center, owned by Hawthorne Retail Partners and Cary’s Parkside Town Commons, owned and operated by Kite Realty Group (NYSE:KRG). The University Hill location in Durham is slated to open in the spring of 2020 and Parkside Town Commons should open in Cary in mid-2020. The group is close to finalizing its third location, which will likely be its first to open as it is targeting an early 2020 opening in Raleigh.

“Ashley and I have been friends for years and I couldn’t be happier for us to partner with her on this new journey, and I am ecstatic that we get to work together to spread her ideas on food and community. Not only do more people get to enjoy her stellar menu, but more team members get the chance to learn her thoughts on food and hospitality – and probably more importantly - on furthering equality, fairness and kindness in the food service industry.” said MDO Holdings CEO, Michael Olander Jr.

“I have been so impressed with the thoughtful curation and sustainable scaling that MDO Holdings has been able to accomplish in the local food space,” Christensen says of the partnership. “We share a vision and commitment to good practices and pushing the industry forward with positive change. I am excited to grow this new brand with creative food offerings and new opportunities to give back to this community.”

The restaurant has yet to announce its name, branding or full menu, but plans to unveil those items over the next few months on its landing page:

CBRE Raleigh’s Senior Vice President, Charlie Coyne, has helped the owners with locations and leases with the various landlords.

About Ashley Christensen

Christensen is a chef and restauranteur based in Raleigh, North Carolina. She owns and operates AC Restaurants, which includes Poole’s Diner, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck’s, Fox Liquor Bar, Death & Taxes, and AC Events. She most recently won the 2019 James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef. She has also been awarded “Chef of the year” by Eater in 2017 and Best Chef: Southeast by the James Beard Foundation in 2014.

Christensen began cooking while in college, throwing dinner parties for her friends and family. These intimate gatherings helped her recognize her passion for cooking and sharing food, and ultimately led to her first professional cooking job at the age of 21. Upon taking the position, she knew she had found her life’s work.

Christensen remains very active in local and regional non-profits and causes. She has served as a board member of the Frankie Lemmon foundation and is a co-chair of its annual fundraising event, Triangle Wine & Food Experience. In honor of her long-time support, the Frankie Lemmon School named their school’s kitchen in honor of Christensen in June of 2019. She has also served on the board of Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. She is an active member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and founded the biannual event Stir the Pot, in which she hosts visiting chefs in Raleigh to raise funds for the SFA’s documentary initiatives. Christensen is also currently helping raise funds for NextStep Raleigh, a paralysis recovery center opened in part by Michael Thor, a fellow Raleigh restauranteur who was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 2015. She also continues to be an activist for women’s equality issues and for fair wages and treatment of all food service industry workers.

About MDO Holdings

MDO Holdings is a Raleigh-based investment and management firm that strives to fuel creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit to help create healthier and stronger communities. We take a collaborative approach across all business lines, believing that the exchange of resources and ideas will spark concepts and synergies that help everyone grow in ways they traditionally would not. These cross-industry relationships also encourage us and our partner companies to constantly innovate and adapt, helping to shape their surrounding industries and markets.

About the University Hill Development in Durham

University Hill is a more than 300,000 square foot mixed use development at the corner of University Drive and Shannon Road that will feature restaurants, retail, office and over 250 Class A apartments. Anchored by O2 Fitness, University Hill will feature one of the largest collections of murals in the Southeast (UHILL WALLS) and is scheduled to be fully open in the Spring of 2020.

About Parkside Town Commons in Cary

Conveniently located on the northwest side of Cary, adjacent to the Research Triangle Park and near Chapel Hill, Parkside Town Commons is a beautiful open-air community and entertainment center that boasts major tenants including Improv Raleigh, Target, and CineBowl & Grille. The new restaurant location will be in a newly built portion of Parkside and will be adjacent to an open-air taproom that will share outdoor dining space.

About Kite Realty Group Trust

Kite Realty Group Trust is a full-service, vertically integrated real estate investment trust (REIT) that provides communities with convenient and beneficial shopping experiences. We connect consumers to retailers in desirable markets through our portfolio of neighborhood, community, and lifestyle centers. For more information, please visit