Chick N Max – a budding fast casual chain specializing in chef-crafted sandwiches, almond wood smoked chicken and wings, and golden fried tenders – is eyeing Colorado as one of its top expansion states outside of the Midwest. The Wichita-based franchise is planning to open as many as 20 restaurants across the state over the next five years, specifically looking at Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction.

Company plans call for opening 10-15 of those restaurants in metro Denver, three units in Colorado Springs and 1-2 locations in Grand Junction. Each restaurant will include indoor and outdoor seating for approximately 100 customers, and employ 25-30 people.

“We’re constantly being asked, ‘When are you coming to our state?’” says Chick N Max founder Max Sheets. “The demand is obviously everywhere, but we’re being very careful to grow strategically. Right now, we’re looking for qualified candidates across Colorado and a few other states. There’s no limit to how far we can take this.”

A nearly 30-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Sheets was at the floor of Ted’s Montana Grill when Ted Turner and George McKerrow pioneered the better-burger segment. That ultimately led him to the formation of Chick N Max, and what he calls the home of “The Better Chicken Sandwich.”

Today, Chick N Max’s chef-crafted sandwiches, made with almond wood smoked pulled chicken or golden fried tenders, are where the emerging chain stretches its culinary muscle. Examples of proprietary sandwiches include Maple Bacon, or pulled smoked chicken, chopped bacon, a drizzle of maple syrup, cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise on a potato bun; and Sweet & Spicy, which includes breaded and fried chicken tenders, fried jalapeño pepper strips, cucumber, tomato and sweet & spicy sauce on a brioche bun.

“Our menu features the hottest food in America – chicken sandwiches – and takes them to the next level with unique flavors and toppings,” says Sheets.

Chick N Max also serves almond wood smoked chicken in the form of wings, leg quarters, breast quarters, and half chicken. Other offerings include chicken and waffles, popcorn chicken, and sides like French fries, onion rings, and smoked white beans.

Guests can complete their meal with a range of 10 homestyle sides and 11 sauces that are made daily to ensure the highest quality and the best taste.

With expansion on the horizon, Chick N Max is also working on prototypes, which Sheets describes as “Chick N Max 2.0.” With each new location, the brand is continuing to evolve the look, feel, and size. The first store is 3,000 square feet, but the second and third are 2,800 and 2,400, respectively. The next prototype is roughly 2,100 square feet. Sheets even mentioned the possibility of looking at double drive-thrus.

Including a franchise fee of $35,000, the total investment to open a Chick N Max restaurant ranges from $450,000 to $550,000. The range takes into account market and store sizes and other factors.

“We don’t want a lot of people,” Sheets continuee. “Just a few. We’re going to walk before we run. If we can open three to five stores, that’s great, but it’s a long-term commitment and partnership, and we want people that we want to work with, that want to work with us, so that we can all do this together.”

Emerging Concepts, Fast Casual, Franchising, Growth, News, Chick N Max