business

Small-Business Success Story: Chicken Salad Chick Shares a Taste of the South

Her obsession with chicken salad launched a fast-casual restaurant franchise.

Kiplinger's spoke with Stacy Brown (pictured above), 42, founder of the Auburn, Ala.-based restaurant franchise Chicken Salad Chick, about how she went from being a stay-at-home mom to running her own company. Here's an excerpt from our interview:

How did you grow? We opened two more restaurants in Auburn to handle demand. Then we targeted other college towns. Visiting parents would ask, “What do we have to do to get one of these in Little Rock or Tuscaloosa?” Franchise requests poured in. We secured a local partner and investor and built our franchising infrastructure.

We got a lot of press, and many private-equity companies came knocking. We turned away all but one. Eagle Merchant Partners, of Atlanta, believed in what we do, valued our core values, respected what we had built and didn’t want to change it. We accepted their offer in May 2015. They bought majority ownership and infused more capital. In 2016, we had revenue of $12.4 million.

Your role now? Kevin passed away from cancer in 2015. I still have a share of ownership, and I’m financially secure. Now, I’m the company’s brand voice to make sure we stay true to who we are.

What’s the goal? We want to be the best chicken salad in the nation. The cost to establish a franchise, depending on square footage, runs from $400,000 to $550,000 per restaurant. We hope to have 200 restaurants by 2020.

Are you sick of chicken salad? I was when I was the one cooking it. I probably didn’t eat it for a year and a half. When I got back to it, I thought, Darn, this is good. Really good.

Most Popular

You'll Save More on Green Home Improvements Under the Inflation Reduction Act
Tax Breaks

You'll Save More on Green Home Improvements Under the Inflation Reduction Act

Tax credits for energy-efficient home improvements will be extended and expanded by the Inflation Reduction Act.
August 12, 2022
Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
3 Dated Rules of Thumb Retirees Should Think Twice About
investing

3 Dated Rules of Thumb Retirees Should Think Twice About

The tried-and-true investing and saving rules of thumb retirees depend on may no longer be as reliable as they hoped. Don’t let dated “rules” steer yo…
August 11, 2022

Recommended

Should You Treat Your Kids Equally in Your Will? 12 Financial Planners Weigh In
retirement

Should You Treat Your Kids Equally in Your Will? 12 Financial Planners Weigh In

What's the "fair" way to divide an estate? Many parents think they should divvy things evenly among their children ... but that can backfire. So what'…
August 1, 2022
Audit-Proof Your Small Business
small business

Audit-Proof Your Small Business

Eight tips for keeping your business expenses and record-keeping organized.
August 1, 2022
How to Control Your Business Exit
small business

How to Control Your Business Exit

Many business owners reach retirement age only to find they don’t have a viable exit plan. Avoid falling into that trap by getting your company ready …
July 17, 2022
Financial Advice from America’s Founding Fathers
credit & debt

Financial Advice from America’s Founding Fathers

What money-management guidance can we glean from the words — and experience — of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and others?
June 30, 2022