Chicken Salad Chick announced Wednesday it’s first-time ranking on Inc.’s annual list of the 500 fastest-growing companies in the U.S. for 2016. Debuting at No. 37 with 6,043 percent growth over the past three years, Chicken Salad Chick is the highest ranked franchise company and top restaurant concept, as well as the highest ranked Alabama-based company on the larger Inc. 5000 list, beating out 54 ranked businesses in the state.

“We’re thrilled and honored to be ranked among such incredible and established companies,” says Scott Deviney, president and chief executive officer at Chicken Salad Chick. “We share this ranking with our dedicated franchisees who have helped build Chicken Salad Chick into the company it is today—one of America’s fastest-growing. In just eight years, the company has grown from a small take-out restaurant in Auburn, Alabama to a 58-unit franchise concept, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the next eight years has in store of us. While we are thrilled to be recognized for our industry-leading growth, what really inspires us is the opportunity to continue spreading joy, enriching lives and serving others as Chicken Salad Chick expands across new and existing markets in the Southeast.”

In 2015, Chicken Salad Chick opened 17 restaurants and signed 20 new franchise agreements, along with eight new area development agreements, as the brand continues its aggressive expansion. The company has also reported record-high systemwide sales with an increase of 63 percent, which has been driven by exciting limited time offers, such as the Dill-icious Diva and Key Lime Pie, as well as new store openings. This year, Chicken Salad Chick plans to open at least 30 restaurants.

To be named one of America’s 2016 fastest-growing businesses, each company must be privately held, for-profit and independent without subsidiaries or divisions of other companies, and have minimum revenue of $100,000 in 2012 and $2 million in 2015. All honorees, including Chicken Salad Chick, will be recognized at the Inc. 5000 Conference & Gala in San Antonio, October 18—20.

The Chicken Salad Chick concept, born in Auburn, Alabama, was established in 2008 in the kitchen of founder, Stacy Brown. When Stacy discovered that the local county health department would not allow her to continue making and selling her delicious recipes out of her home kitchen, she overcame that obstacle by launching her first restaurant with the business expertise of her future husband and fellow founder, Kevin Brown. Together, they opened a small takeout restaurant, which quickly grew; the company now has 58 restaurants across the Southeast and 146 in development.

Last year, Chicken Salad Chick entered several new markets, such as Charlotte, North Carolina; Summerville, South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Greensboro, North Carolina; Orlando, Florida; Tampa, Florida; Ormond Beach, Florida; Roswell, Georgia; Daphne, Alalabama; and Asheville, North Carolina. In 2016, the chicken salad-focused brand is aiming to open at least 30 restaurants in Southern U.S. markets, including Florida, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Alabama. By 2020, Chicken Salad Chick anticipates to have at least 200 restaurants open.

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