Chicken lovers in Uptown Fayetteville, get ready to celebrate. Slim Chickens is coming to the north side of town.
The locally-based restaurant chain owners are planning to open a second Fayetteville store – their ninth location – in Spring Creek Center across from McDonald’s on Joyce Boulevard this spring.
The new Fayetteville store will focus on dine-in and carry-out service, since the new space in Spring Creek Center won’t be able to accommodate a drive thru. Slim’s CEO Tom Gordon said he sees that as an opportunity rather than a disadvantage.
“We’re excited to work on this concept here,” he said. “We think it will give us an opportunity to open stores in denser markets in buildings that aren’t able to accommodate a drive thru, and that’s a good thing.”
Over the past year, Slim Chickens has doubled its locations, expanding from four stores in 2009, to eight at the end of 2010. The company is coming off its most successful opening yet in Edmond, Okla. The store opened on Dec. 15, and is on pace to outperform any of the existing locations.
“Edmond has been the busiest store opening that we’ve ever done,” said Gordon. “Only the Conway store has rivaled it, but so far, Edmond is really sustaining that kind of volume day in and day out.”
Slim Chickens is coming up on its 8th anniversary this year, and has grown to employ almost 200 people across Arkansas and Oklahoma. Not bad for a company that began in co-founder Greg Smart’s garage, with three guys cooking up chicken in a turkey fryer for their friends.
For Gordon, Slim’s success comes down to details.
“We never freeze any of our protein products, so all of our chicken is fresh,” he said. “Also, most places use split breast to cut costs, but we use only the best part of the chicken, the actual tenderloin of the breast for our tenders. We make all our dipping sauces fresh in house. All of that makes a difference.”
Gordon said that Slim’s has completed the necessary paperwork to begin selling franchises, but they haven’t done so as of yet. To this point, they’ve opened all eight locations on their own.
“Right now, we are just looking for the right person or group to sell a franchise to,” he said. “I’ve heard the horror stories about folks who’ve franchised too quickly. We’re fortunate enough to not have to rely on that, and to be able to take our time to find the right fit.”
If everything goes according to plan, the new Fayetteville store will be open sometime in March.