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

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
How to Calculate the Break-Even Age for Taking Social Security
social security

How to Calculate the Break-Even Age for Taking Social Security

When it comes to maximizing your Social Security benefits, there are many elements to consider. One factor that can be especially enlightening is your…
August 30, 2021
Spend Without Worry in Retirement
Financial Planning

Spend Without Worry in Retirement

Fears of running out of money prevent many retirees from tapping the nest egg they’ve worked a lifetime to save. With these strategies, you can genera…
August 30, 2021

Recommended

6 Troublemaking Clients Chiropractors and Lawyers Should Refuse to Take
small business

6 Troublemaking Clients Chiropractors and Lawyers Should Refuse to Take

Chiropractors and lawyers should just say no to these six types of clients, who are either too difficult or too devious to work with. Just walk away!
September 7, 2021
Pitfalls to Avoid When Financing Your Business
small business

Pitfalls to Avoid When Financing Your Business

When small-business owners look for financing, they make a lot of mistakes. Here are six common issues to steer clear of.
August 31, 2021
Complain and Be Heard
Smart Buying

Complain and Be Heard

Getting our money back for the extended warranty and gap insurance we didn't want took patience and persistence.
August 31, 2021
10 Things to Know About Hurricane Insurance Claims
Becoming a Homeowner

10 Things to Know About Hurricane Insurance Claims

Know what's covered, what isn't, and how to make the most of your policy if you need to file a claim.
August 30, 2021