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By In the News

Slim Chickens making ‘Sparks’ in Nevada


Fayetteville, Arkansas-based Slim Chickens has opened in Sparks, Nevada, at 351 Los Altos Parkway, under the direction of multiunit operating group, Roper Foods.

“We are thrilled to bring our southern hospitality and quality cooked-to-order chicken tenders to the community in Sparks,” Jackie Lobdell, vice president of franchise development at Slim Chickens, said in a company press release. “With this being the first location opening in the area, it signifies the dedication and hunger we have for growth in new markets across the country.”

Slim Chickens has over 230 locations across the United States and the United Kingdom.

Read the full story in Fast Casual here: LINK 

By In the News

Slim Chickens Signs Big Deal to Grow in Maryland

06/ 21/2023 

Slim Chickens announced it has inked a deal for eight locations throughout Maryland. Spearheaded by established multi-unit operator, Phoenix Foods, LLC, plans to bring at least eight locations to Baltimore, Baltimore City, Harford, Carol, and Anne Arundel counties.

The better-chicken brand has opened more than 230 locations across the United States and the United Kingdom. With more than 1,100 locations in development, the brand’s momentum shows no signs of slowing down.

“As a generational franchisee, I looked up to my father who was the first franchisee of Burger King. I grew to learn and love all the ins and outs of the restaurant business,” says Brad Hoag, owner of Phoenix Foods, LLC. “Fast forward to my career, it has been gratifying to be presented with several opportunities in the fast-casual segment which I am the most passionate about. I am thrilled to bring a reputable name like Slim Chickens to my hometown where residents can enjoy quality cooked-to-order chicken and an inviting atmosphere in all day parts.”

Local to Baltimore, Hoag takes his extensive experience as an established multi-unit operator as well as a reputable local restauranter. Taking after his father, he is a seasoned franchisee as a former developer and operator of 10 Qdoba Mexican Grill locations eventually selling the units to Qdoba corporate and hosts 10 Burger Kings locations throughout the area. In addition, Brad also assumes a partnership with a local famous chef-driven concept known as Nalley Fresh in the Baltimore area. Interested in introducing a concept that can be offered in all-day parts, he brings Slim Chickens to the area to introduce Southern Hospitality and a beloved quality recipe that is unique to the chicken segment.

“Phoenix Foods, LLC is an ideal operator to extend Slims’ throughout Maryland. Backed by extensive experience in operating multiple fast-casual concepts and a reputation for quality service in the restaurant space, the group is a valuable addition to our team,” says Jackie Lobdell, vice president of franchise development at Slim Chickens. “Brad’s deep roots in the Maryland market and compassion for his community will quickly make Slim Chickens a go-to mealtime destination.”

The brand prides itself on its cooked-to-order fresh food and strong devoted fanbase, also known as “Slimthusiasts.” Slim Chickens has distinguished itself in the industry by offering high-quality food and 17 house-made dipping sauces, allowing customers to enjoy a different flavor profile with each visit. Its menu is broader than many in the segment, offering chicken tenders, fresh salads, sandwiches, chicken and waffles, chicken wings and unique side items. Fans also resonate with the southern contemporary look and feel and open and inviting layout of Slim Chickens restaurants, which speak to the hospitality mindset that anchors the brand.

“We are thrilled for our partnership with Phoenix Foods, LLC, and for the opportunity to share our southern hospitality and cooked-to-order chicken tenders with more communities throughout Maryland,” says Sam Rothschild, CMO of Slim Chickens. “Reputable operating groups like Phoenix Foods LLC are prime examples of who we look for to extend our inviting atmosphere, original recipe, and southern hospitality with more people across the globe.”

The Slim Chickens franchise opportunity differentiates itself with prime markets available for multi-unit development, a passionate leadership team and world-class franchisee support system. As Slim Chickens expands, it is awarding franchise opportunities to qualified, experienced and passionate multi-unit groups looking to add a dynamic segment to their portfolio.

Read the full story in QSR Magazine here: LINK 

By In the News

With Large Slim Chickens Deal, Full-service Operators Tackle First Franchise


FHG Slims, a newly formed division of Finney Hospitality, signed a multi-unit deal last year to open 14 Slim Chickens across nine counties in Michigan, including Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and the surrounding areas in the western and central parts of the state.

Finney Hospitality Group could have chosen any number of fast-casual chicken concepts for its first foray into franchising. In the end, the Bloomington, Indiana-based company chose Slim Chickens because, as Chris Martin, vice president of operations, said, “We wanted to partner with somebody that would support and enable us to grow fast. Plus, they are just an outstanding food brand with great customer service.”

FHG Slims, a newly formed division of Finney Hospitality, signed a multi-unit deal last year to open 14 Slim Chickens across nine counties in Michigan, including Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and the surrounding areas in the western and central parts of the state. The first-time franchisee is targeting Grand Rapids for the first restaurant, with an opening in late spring or early summer of 2024 and a goal of developing no less than one location per year after that, according to Martin.

“Finding the perfect location for our Slims and then finalizing those real estate deals is going to take time,” he said. “But the great thing about Slims is that they totally committed to making this work and not pressuring us to open until we secure perfect real estate locations.”

In Finney Hospitality, founded by Nathan Finney in 2012, Slim Chickens found an experienced restaurant operator to help lead the brand’s expansion in the state. (Elsewhere in Michigan, a group of Jimmy John’s franchisees is developing Slims in the Detroit and Ann Arbor markets.) The Finney portfolio includes five non-franchised bar and restaurant concepts in Indiana—Social Cantina and SmokeWorks among them—mainly concentrated in the Bloomington market, with one of the bar concepts in Dublin and Columbus, Ohio, and another looking to break into Tennessee in 2024. The group also owns a car wash in Bloomington.

Martin said there are no plans for Finney Hospitality to franchise any of its own concepts and it has not ruled out adding other franchises. For now, the focus is on opening Slim Chickens, which they believe has enormous potential.

“Our own brands are very successful and certainly we could have just gone on and done our own thing,

” Martin said. “But when you find a product that you’re 100 percent comfortable with and that you can grow pretty fast—well, it’s just a good business solution.”

Martin said so far he has been “blown away” by how selective Slim Chickens is as it helps the group find the right real estate.

“They are building the brand the right way,” he said, and added, “We’ve spent the last 18 months trying to find the right real estate for our Slims locations because we want the first one to be a home run, with the second, third, fourth, fifth, all of them being the same. Just like us, Slims doesn’t want to make sacrifices and compromises on site locations and that gives us a lot of confidence that we picked the right brand to partner with.”

Slim Chickens got its start in 2003 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and started franchising in 2014. It has more than 230 restaurants in 30 states and in the United Kingdom. Thirty-plus units have opened this year, according to Jackie Lobdell, vice president of franchise development, with another 40 on track to open by the end of the year.

On a global scale, Slim Chickens is growing its presence throughout the U.K. and Europe with Boparan Restaurant Group, the master franchisee that has more than 30 locations open and plans for at least 50.

The brand’s southern-style food is co

oked to order, with a menu featuring chicken tenders, salads, sandwiches, chicken and waffles, chicken wings and side items, alongside 17 house-made dipping sauces. Slim Chickens has an initial investment range of $1.6 million to $4.4 million, according to the company’s franchise disclosure document, with average gross sales in 2022 of $2.5 million.

Martin said Finney Hospitality is aware of how competitive the fast-casual chick

en segment is in Michigan with Chick-fil-A, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Zaxby’s and others growing there. Still, his group believes Slim Chickens was the right choice for its first franchise.

“I think in five to 10 years from now, there’s going to be a couple of thousands of Slim Chickens across the United States. It’s a pretty impressive organization of franchisees and franchisors and we’re excited to be a part of it now,” Martin said.

To read the full story on Franchise Times visit: LINK 


By In the News

Slim Chickens Debuts Airport Location in Istanbul, Turkey 

Fast-casual restaurant brand seeks to expand footprint with flexible formats

Slim Chickens has opened its first unit in Turkey, a new unit at the Istanbul airport.

The Fayetteville, Ark.-based fast-casual company said the restaurant is operated by the Boparan Restaurant Group and Ulus.

Related: At 20, Slim Chickens is all grown up- and ready for exponential growth. 

The brand is known for its cooked-to-order chicken tenders, 17 sauce flavors and Southern hospitality. The Istanbul airport, which replaced smaller ones, was inaugurated in October 2018.

“We have been anticipating this opening for a long time now and are thrilled to share our southern recipe with residents and travelers alike in the Istanbul airport,” said Jackie Lobdell, vice president of franchise development at Slim Chickens. “We are grateful for our partnership with reputable operating groups like Boparan Restaurant Group and Ulus who continue to spread our name in more communities across the globe.”

The chicken brand has inked more than 50 new development deals, with more than 34 openings and 10 new territories, including Turkey, Nevada, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The brand, in franchise documentation, said it has average unit volumes of more than $3.8 million.

“We had big goals heading into 2023, and as we continue to hit milestones such as opening in the world’s largest airport and in new markets like Nevada and Indiana, we couldn’t be prouder,” said Lobdell in a statement.

Slim Chickens, founded in 2003, has more than 235 locations.

Link to read the full story in Nation’s Restaurant News here- LINK 

By In the News

Slim Chickens to Open 25 Restaurants in Southeast Michigan 






Fayetteville, Ark. — Fast casual franchise Slim Chickens has signed a deal to expand into Southeast Michigan with 25 restaurants. Partners Brad DeLange, Todd DeLange and Doug Broadright will lead the restaurant’s Great Lakes division and bring the brand to locations in the Detroit and Ann Arbor metropolitan areas. Slim Chickens has opened more than 225 locations in the U.S. and the U.K. and has more than 1,100 restaurants in development.

You can read the full story on Shopping Center Business here. LINK 

By In the News


Jimmy John’s Franchisees Plan Major Slim Chickens Growth in Michigan


Brad DeLange believes he has a “home run” in Slim Chickens, the fast-growing chicken concept now expanding in Michigan after DeLange and his business partners signed a 25-unit development agreement for several southeast counties.

“We’re just so giddy and just so bottled up with energy for this,” said DeLange, who with his brother, Todd DeLange, and partner Doug Broadright will open Slim Chickens in the Detroit and Ann Arbor markets under their Slims Great Lakes group. The trio brings operating experience from their years as Jimmy John’s franchisees, with 10 stores under Integra Holdings Corp.

DeLange said he “started getting the itch” to explore a second brand about four years ago as areas for Jimmy John’s became saturated and his group didn’t want to open stores in far-flung markets. “We had entered Ohio and it just didn’t fit with our approach of being very hands-on operators,” said DeLange of the move recently to localize operations and sell three stores in the Cleveland metro.

He researched about a dozen brands, including Fayetteville, Arkansas-based Slim Chickens, going “really far down the line” with two different concepts before switching to Slim Chickens. “It was just everything we were looking for,” said DeLange as he ticked off the inviting atmosphere of the restaurants, emphasis on Southern hospitality and the food quality.

Slim Chickens, with more than 225 locations open, serves a menu of chicken tenders, wings, sandwiches and salads, along with chicken and waffles and sides such as fried pickles and fried okra. Its leadership, including Chief Operating Officer Sam Rothschild and Jackie Lobdell, vice president of franchise development, and conversations with existing franchisees likewise gave DeLange confidence in the brand.

“They’re the real deal. What you hear, what you talk about, that’s them,” he said.

The business model, while a departure from the inline, takeout- and delivery-heavy style of Jimmy John’s, was ultimately another attractive feature. Most Slim Chickens restaurants are standalone units with drive-thrus and do more dine-in sales as part of the brand’s focus on appealing to families.

“It felt like the perfect blend,” said DeLange as he noted the company has also invested in technology to support more third-party delivery and takeout sales.

The operational differences also mean plenty of work on the front end, DeLange acknowledged, as the group is focused now on building teams from among its existing crew and hiring outside talent with experience running more complex restaurants. His brother will be the operating leader. “It will be very different from what we’re used to,” he said. “We’re very aware of that.”

Slim Chickens has just two locations open in Michigan, non-traditional units at Oakland University and Central Michigan University, meaning generation of brand awareness is another task. It’s one the group plans to tackle by continuing the high level of community involvement that’s helped make its Jimmy John’s stores successful.

“This is truly for the benefit of the community,” said DeLange. “It’s an opportunity to impact the people we brush shoulders with every day and we had to jump on it.”

While Slims Great Lakes has a 25-unit deal, it won’t rush development and is “slow rolling at the beginning” as it pursues an initial pipeline of locations, he said.

Slim Chickens has an initial investment range of $1.6 million to $4.4 million; average gross sales in 2022 were $2.5 million.

Link to the full story on here. 

By In the News

4 Regional Chicken Chains You’re About to See Everywhere


Founded in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2003, Slim Chickens didn’t even begin franchising until 2013. Fast forward to more recent times, and the brand generated $265 million in system sales between 2019-2021 and operates over 150 locations.

“There are a lot of things that are the same. I still feel so responsible for all 8,000 people that work for the brand,” company co-founder Tom Gordon said recently. “It’s nice to be in a position of financial strength versus scrambling for the first decade. That’s allowed us to do a lot of great things for our company, our franchisees.”

Most Slim Chickens restaurants are located in the South, but the brand is expanding in a major way all over the country. The pandemic didn’t slow the chain down either, with 2020 seeing 20 new locations open and the chain’s first entry into the Florida market.

The company had said that it was aiming to have 600 locations by the end of this decade a few years ago—but Slim Chickens appears set to smash that target by a considerable margin; there are currently over 1,100 units in development. The chain is quickly branching out to new markets such as Las VegasIowa, South Dakota, New Mexico, Montana, and Maryland.

Slim Chickens offers customers 17 house-made sauces to pair with chicken tenders, sandwiches, wings, and more—and every meal is cooked to order. “If you’re talking quick service or fast casual, we set ourselves apart by delivering that fresh quality product,” chief operating officer Sam Rothschild told QSR in 2019.

Read the full story on Eat This, Not That linked here:

Global Franchise

By In the News

Slim Chickens enters 2023 with new deals and plans for expansion

The better-chicken brand has more than 300 development deals and more openings across the globe than ever before.


 Slim Chickens has established more than 300 signed agreements across the globe, attaining a total of 1,100 units in development deals. The brand also celebrated its 200th store opening, conquered 15 new franchise territories with its development deals, and opened 50 new locations in 2022.

In addition to its rapid franchise growth, Slim Chickens boasts a 3.8 million AUV and has held a robust 44 per cent increase in comp stores sales growth over the last four years. The company has made history with more openings across the United States and globally than ever before.

Vice president of franchise development, Jackie Lobdell, says: “This year we have tallied up an impressive year of growth into new markets on a national and global scale more than ever before, and we could not be prouder. We are honored to have a dedicated team of skilled and knowledgeable franchisees who continue to extend our southern hospitality to new markets around the world.

“As the chicken craze continues to flourish, our leadership team, training methods, resources, and established franchisees will continue to maintain our positive growth trajectory. We remain resilient and relentless time and time again and look forward to further grabbing the attention of highly qualified restaurant operators who want to be a part of our story in communities around the world.”

In addition to the brand’s success in 2022, Slim Chickens has been recognized by several restaurant and franchise trade publications for its robust reputation in the industry. The franchise was named the Breakout Brand of the Year by QSR Magazine and was recognized as a Top Recession-Proof Business by Franchise Business Review. The brand was also named in the top percentile as one of the Fastest Growing Franchises by Entrepreneur and a Mover and Shaker by Fast Casual. Most recently, Franchise Times Magazine ranked the better-chicken brand at number five in its Fast and Serious List of smartest-growing brands, and the company was also acknowledged as a 2023 Top Franchise by Franchise Business Review.

Sam Rothschild, COO of Slim Chickens, says: “We have spent a lot of time and investment in the people that enable us to do this. We understand what it takes to support our franchisees and we have the systems and processes in place to do so. We are honored to have the quality of franchisees that we have today but are eager to continue the momentum.

“There is still a lot of opportunity in the U.S. to grow Slim Chickens and we have started to open in Michigan, Wisconsin, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Not only are we rapidly expanding domestically but we are thrilled to continue to enter new markets abroad as well.”

As the leading better-chicken brand continues its momentum and upward trajectory, it’s looking to extend its southern hospitality and fuel the demand for its hand-breaded cooked-to-order tenders across the United States, as well in countries such as France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Turkey, and the GCC.

Link to the full story here:

Restaurant Development + Design

By In the News


Best Practices for Intentional Restaurant Design


Chain restaurants have multiple locations that are instantly recognizable by customers. But more brands are building a degree of distinction into locations to give them a little flair, some ties to the local community, and “an extra degree of thoughtfulness,” says Ke


ndra Payne, director of design and project management, Slim Chickens, Fayetteville, Ark. “It doesn’t feel like we’re stamping out the same restaurant over and over, but we’ve really put some intentional effort and care into each restaurant.” Adding variation also helps each franchisee have ownership of their store, she adds.

Here Payne shares six best practices for intentional restaurant design.

  1. Keep some things the same.

Slim Chickens likes to keep equipment and furniture consistent from store to store for scalability and affordability. “We really want everyone to stay with the standard package so most of the design is similar, which helps with our vendor partners,” says Payne. “And we always want our signage to look the same. The placement might be different, and some places might not allow certain things on the exterior. But we want franchisees to stay as close to the prototype as possible.”

It’s important for guests to have a level of familiarity when they enter each store, Payne says, and that they can recognize the restaurants from afar. “We want to feel almost like a family. So, we want the interiors to feel the same, we want the guest flow to feel right, and we want people to know where to go so they immediately feel at ease.” To that end, the stores are all laid out almost identically, except for second-generation units, when she says, she has to “work within the constraints of what’s there.”

  1. Be open to changes. 

Slim Chickens likes to use brick in its building’s exteriors, and ideally brick that’s been produced locally to pr

ovide a tie-in and sustainability. Some municipalities don’t allow this, though, Payne says, so the company is open to going with lap siding to keep that rustic feel. Slim Chickens is also open to featuring thin brick facing on the interior.

  1. Focus on community first.

To bring some difference to each location, Slim Chickens focuses on community first. This might mean featuring a mural calling out something local like a state bird; focusing on geography, such as famous bridges and parks; an industry driver (textiles, for example, or steel); or famous people. The concept shies away from sports teams but tries instead to focus on something more longstanding. “Plus, we’re not a sports bar,” Payne adds.

  1. Similar but distinct.

Some Slim Chickens franchisees like to feature guitars on their walls, which are often sourced from local pawn shops. “They give the franchisee a chance to reflect some of their personality into the space while also remaining consistent with our brand,” Payne says.

  1. Incorporate brand messaging.

A lot of Slim Chickens’ interior graphics feature brand messaging.The company is developing some new music-themed posters, “and adding some color into the space,”Payne says. There will be five of these available later in the year, and stores can choose which ones to feature — usually three. “The posters are an homage to the blues festival posters of the past and use the Slim Chickens name in fun ways to bring color and whimsy into the stores,” Payne says.

  1. Let loose with second-gen stores.

Slim Chickens has a lot more leeway with its second generation stores and Payne says she prefers these “because they’re more challenging and allow me to be a bit more creative with the layouts — we might do different seating or lighting.”

Second-gen stores are also a good opportunity to test new things, she says, but at the same time, they have to be cost-conscious. “There sometimes is a challenge that cannot be overcome, maybe millwork can’t fit in that space, or in the position we need, or ceiling heights can vary widely, so we might have to think about not having an open ceiling, or how that affects the lighting.” Seating also might need to be changed up, taking out banquettes and adding a corner booth, for example. These locations, she says, “provide me some relief and makes me think much more around design and function.”

Link to the full story here: