According to QSR magazine, a major trade publication for the industry, Fayetteville-based Slim Chickens has had no trouble standing out in the world of quick-service restaurants.
In a lengthy profile published in its January issue, QSR proclaimed the fast-casual chain as the “Breakout Brand of the Year” in the restaurant industry for 2021.
Tom Gordon and Greg Smart co-founded the business in 2003 and started franchising a decade later. In July 2019, the growth potential attracted investment from 10 Point Capital, an Atlanta-based private equity firm that also backs Walk-On’s and Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
The 10 Point investment is where QSR jumps off with its profile.
“We really were able to speed up franchising and speed up franchise development,” Gordon told QSR, referring to the equity investment. “It allowed us to recruit more, hire more people, not be as constrained budget-wise when it came to payroll and executives and hiring and travel and allowed us to really start moving around the country and doing the things we needed to do as a franchisor to really grow the business.”
Gordon explained that Slim Chickens already had a good thing going before the 10 Point Capital investment. The company had about a dozen units in 2014 to approximately 80 when the investment occurred. Slim Chickens now stands at 150 stores and the goal is to reach 600 by 2025.
QSR reports Slim Chickens opened a record 23 stores in 2019, 19 in 2020 (during a pandemic) and 40 last year.
Same-store sales rose by 14% in 2020, and the chain reached a similar level in 2021.