Alabama residents are rejoicing as respected local businessman Walker Styron will be opening the first PONKO Chicken in the state of Alabama. This award-winning, Japanese Fusion, fast-casual restaurant is slated to open in Auburn in the coming weeks.

The first PONKO Chicken franchise to open outside the state of Georgia will be located at 2111 S. College St., conveniently located right off the interstate and close to Auburn University. This spectacular 1,600 square-foot restaurant will have PONKO’s bright, modern and engaging touches throughout.

Styron first became familiar with PONKO while looking for an impressive business to bring to Auburn. When his friend and now General Manager, Matthew Ventimiglia, mentioned that his uncle, Dr. Patrick Sallarullo, was franchising PONKO Chicken, one of Atlanta’s most popular fast-casual restaurants in recent years, it sparked Styon’s interest. Together Styron and Ventimiglia took a drive to Atlanta where they sampled a variety of PONKO’s tenders, salads, sandwiches and tacos, and from there, the vision of bringing PONKO to Alabama became a reality.

“I sincerely loved PONKO Chicken since my very first bite,” Stryon said. “Between the crispiness, fantastic flavor and juicy texture along with the health benefits of being cooked in rice bran oil, I couldn’t stop raving about it. Combining that with Dr. Patrick Sallarullo’s strong faith and desire to raise significant funds for charities he believes in, it was my goal to share PONKO Chicken with the Auburn community. Bringing this new style of health-focused, fast-casual restaurant to the tight community of Auburn has us very energized.”

Walker is also the owner of Riverside Chevrolet. He has done his best to be a part of his father’s dream since he was 16. When Walker was just 18, his father who started Riverside Chevrolet, passed away and left the dealership to Walker, who has successfully run it since then. Now, Walker is eager to launch a business solely on his own, and thrilled that PONKO Chicken is that business.

This “Eats Meets West” restaurant, which seats 50 people, offers PONKO‘s full menu, with its award-winning PONKO Chicken as well as vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, beer, wine and a customized catering menu.

PONKO Chicken Auburn will be open from 10:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday.


PONKO Chicken is known for its award-winning Japanese-American chicken tender, claiming the titles of “Three-Peat Winner” at Taste of Atlanta, “Best Salad In Atlanta” by Atlanta Magazine in 2022, “Best Fried Chicken” at ATL CLuckFest in 2018, “Top Selling Vendor” at SuperBowl Live 2019 and “Best Dish” in the Midtown Alliance Spring Crawl 2019. 

The flagship PONKO Chicken Restaurant opened in 2017 in Chamblee, Georgia. In 2018, ownership decided to take the unique taste to the masses by offering the opportunity to franchise, and the first PONKO Chicken franchise store opened its doors in Midtown, Atlanta, in 2019.

Led by Chairman and CEO, Dr. Partick Sallarulo, PONKO Chicken has locations throughout the Atlanta Metropolitan area, in Chamblee, Midtown, Marietta, Decatur, Buckhead and Alpharetta as well as in the Savannah suburb of Pooler, Georgia, in addition to this newest location in Auburn. PONKO Franchise Corporation currently has agreements to open additional locations throughout the region, with the next one slated to open in Athens, Georgia.

Additional information can be found at:

Instagram and Facebook: @ponkochicken