Alabama restaurant chain arrives in Northwest Arkansas

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,737 views 

Sharon and Mark Etchison, Fayetteville franchisees for Alabama-based restaurant chain Chicken Salad Chick.

Alabama-based restaurant chain Chicken Salad Chick has opened a store in Fayetteville at 352 E. Joyce Blvd.

Sharon Etchison of Fayetteville, a first-time restaurant franchise owner, is the owner and operator of the restaurant, along with her husband, Mark.

Etchison, who attended the University of Arkansas, said she and her husband have lived in Fayetteville on three separate occasions. They relocated from Mobile, Ala., about three years ago.

“When you start a new concept in a new town from scratch, with all new employees, there’s so much opportunity for things not to work the way you plan it. But Chicken Salad Chick is the most amazing brand,” she said. “They brought trainers in from our corporate office, and they are, in my words, absolute rock stars. We’re feeling good about it.”

Chicken Salad Chick was founded in 2008 by Stacy Brown. In 2015, Atlanta private equity firm Eagle Merchant Partners — whose portfolio also includes Church’s Chicken and Caribou Coffee — purchased a majority stake in the company. Chicken Salad Chick now has more than 125 restaurants in 15 states.

The menu has more than a dozen original chicken salad flavors as well as fresh side salads, gourmet soups, signature sandwiches and desserts.

“A common question I get is, ‘Do you have a favorite flavor,’” Etchison said. “The answer is, ‘Yes. All of them.’”

The Fayetteville store is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed on Sunday. A mixture of 42 full-time and part-time employees staff the restaurant. Etchison is operating the restaurant through an LLC called 72 Hours. She said a Rogers location will open “in about a year” with the possibility of two other sites in Northwest Arkansas after that.

Chicken Salad Chick opened its first Arkansas store last year in Jonesboro.