A Vail restaurant aimed at making fried chicken fast-casual chic is spreading its wings to Boulder.

Yellowbelly, a quick-service restaurant with a menu of natural chicken and vegetarian sides, has started outfitting a space near the Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria at the Village Shopping Center, 2525 Arapahoe Ave., according to building permits recently approved by the city of Boulder.

Officials expect to open Yellowbelly in four to six weeks.

"We kind of always thought that Boulder would be a natural progression for us," said Barry Davis, a co-founder of Yellowbelly.

Several fast-casual chains -- including the fellow Vail Valley-bred Larkburger -- have found success in the Boulder market. Concurrently, Yellowbelly's operators know that there is no shortage of competition in the sector sandwiched between fast food and casual dining.

Yellowbelly hopes to get a leg up on the fray because its menu could play to a strong group-lunch and evening to-go business, said co-founder Michael Friedberg.

"We got a lot of great neighbors where we are, that's a good thing for us," Davis said.

The expansion to Boulder comes less than a year after Yellowbelly opened in Vail.

Davis, a restaurateur who sought some simplicity while running the "monster" 100-employee restaurant and bowling alley Bol, partnered with chef Eric Wupperman and friend Friedberg.

What originally was envisioned as an "off-shoot lunch counter" evolved into a fast-casual concept with a simple menu and all-natural, GMO-free chicken as the fare.

Friedberg, a Boulder-bred cyclist who did not grow up eating fried chicken, was not initially sold on the idea, but turned the corner based on Wupperman's preparation of the chicken that -- including the gluten-free batter -- cut down on the grease.

"I didn't realize how many people had this amazing affinity and connection" to fried chicken, Friedberg said. "It's OK to have fat in your diet if you lead an active lifestyle. It's good, quality protein."

The moniker Yellowbelly was crafted as a lighthearted way to help convert others who may have held similar feelings about chicken, Friedberg said.

As a means of reaching the bird-adverse, Yellowbelly's menu also includes a selection of sides such as slaw made from brussel sprouts, citrus quinoa and baby kale salads, Davis said.

"It's crazy how many people find us because they heard it's a good vegetarian restaurant," Davis said.

Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or wallacea@dailycamera.com.