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This Southern-Inspired Chicken Chain Just Opened Its 200th U.S. Location

They've doubled their locations in just three years and now reveal pandemic-defying sales growth.

It's chicken, it's salad, it's chicken salad… and it's crazy popular. An award-winning fast-casual food chain is experiencing intensely unique growth, thanks to a menu that can satisfy both healthy and indulgent cravings, and an executive team that recognizes what a special thing they've got.

Earlier this year, Atlanta-based Chicken Salad Chick announced their plans to reach 200 locations by the end of 2021. At the start of summer, they'd moved into 180 locations, with 80 of those reportedly having opened in just the past three years.

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Less than three months later, Restaurant Business reported Friday that the brand has met their goal for the year. The recent opening of the 200th Chicken Salad Chick location now gives the chain a reach across 17 states from its Atlanta home base eastward to greater Fort Lauderdale and the Washington, D.C. area, as far north as Illinois, and west into Texas and Oklahoma.

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And, in an era when many restaurants have struggled against pandemic challenges, Chicken Salad Chick actually reports that average sales within its restaurants are up 50% since last year—a record for the brand.

Reflecting on the growth, CEO Scott Deviney said: "It's so challenging to grow a brand from a very small number to a bigger number." Deviney also noted that "the statistics in franchising are so stacked against you to get to 100 units," adding: "Every time we can hit a new milestone, it means we're doing something that such a few companies can attain."

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What's the secret recipe to the dainty Chick's monstrous success? It seems it's women. Their brand story states founder Stacy Brown was a stay-at-home mom when she realized: "Everyone's idea of the perfect chicken salad is completely different!" Brown says that notion inspired the restaurant concept.

The site also explains that each of the brand's chicken salad flavor names is inspired by a woman in Brown's life. And, Chicken Salad Chick's offerings seem to be a clear appeal to an audience hungry for relatively light fare, and a range of flavors—from spicy and savory to sweet—that can please any palate.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more