Chick N Max – a next generation fast casual franchise specializing in almond wood smoked chicken and wings, chef-crafted sandwiches and golden fried tenders – is headed to Texas, thanks to an area development agreement for 25 restaurants in Houston. The deal has been signed with Aaron Johnson, a nearly 30-year veteran of the franchise industry with such brands as Bennigan’s, Smashburger and MOD Pizza.
Johnson is planning to open the first three restaurants over the next 18-24 months and has already signed a lease for the first of those at the Willis Shopping Center (12312 I-45 N) in Willis. Meanwhile, he’s actively searching for franchise partners to develop the remaining restaurants throughout the metro area.
“The signing of this agreement represents yet another significant step in the growth of Chick N Max as we continue to drive our expansion efforts across the Central and Southeastern United States,” says Chick N Max founder Max Sheets. “Anchored by our innovative take on chicken sandwiches and an enthusiastic partner like Aaron Johnson, we’re perfectly positioned to accommodate the demands for healthier alternatives to burgers and look to the future with great enthusiasm.”
Johnson's long history in restaurant operations began in 1993 at Bennigan’s, where he served as an Area Director for more than 15 years. In 2008, Johnson joined Smashburger as a District Manager and was eventually promoted to Regional Director of Operations. During his tenure with Smashburger, the franchise grew from six to more than 300 units nationwide. For the five and a half years before signing his development agreement with Chick N Max, Johnson held several operations positions with MOD Pizza, including Regional Vice President, and helped grow the brand from 195 to 530 restaurants nationwide.
“While researching several brands in the chicken sandwich space, I knew I wanted to partner with the one I felt had the strongest flavor profile. After my first bite of a Chick N Max sandwich during a visit to Wichita, I was sold,” says Johnson. “I’m especially excited to be joining Max Sheets and his dynamic leadership team. Having the opportunity to grow the brand in Houston, which I call home, gives me great pride.”
Founded in 2017 and franchising since 2021, Chick N Max offers a unique culinary experience with its 10 unique flavors of chef-crafted sandwiches, made with almond wood smoked pulled chicken or crispy golden fried tenders. Examples include the Maple Bacon Sandwich, featuring pulled smoked chicken, chopped bacon, a drizzle of maple syrup, cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise on a potato bun; or the Sweet & Spicy Sandwich, which includes lightly breaded, crisp chicken tenders, fried jalapeño pepper strips, cucumber, tomato and sweet & spicy sauce on a brioche bun.
In addition, Chick N Max serves its signature almond wood smoked chicken in the form of wings, leg quarters, breast quarters, and half chicken.
Guests can complete their meal with a range of 10 homestyle sides including fries, onion rings, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and smoked white beans, and 11 sauces that are made daily to ensure the highest quality and taste.
“Chick N Max’s made-from-scratch menu has something for everyone, with options for those looking to indulge to guests looking for a healthier take on traditional fast-casual chicken offerings,” says Johnson.
The signing of the area development agreement with Johnson comes at a time when Chick N Max is looking to expand across various parts of the Central and Southeastern United States. With three corporate-owned restaurants already serving throngs of customers throughout Wichita, Chick N Max intends to double its footprint by the end of next year and open as many as five new restaurants each year thereafter.
Since the beginning of the year, Chick N Max has also signed a three-unit deal in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as well as an area development agreement for 25 locations across various parts of Kansas.