How many CEO job descriptions include enriching the lives of others and spreading joy to as many people as they can reach? That’s our purpose at Chicken Salad Chick, and it’s one I never tire of putting into action.
Chicken Salad Chick was founded in 2008 with a dedication to serving fresh, house-made chicken salad from the heart. We continue the mission today by working with franchise owners and company store teams who share the same values.
It was those qualities that carried our company through the challenges of the past several years and brought us to the other side stronger than ever. We rallied together through the pandemic to serve others in our communities with pop-up drive-thrus and food deliveries to frontline workers. As restaurants opened back up, we made sure our pre-portioned Quick Chicks were readily available to grab and go and honed our service times to accommodate more drive-thru and pick-up orders.
Since I came onboard in 2015, the Chicken Salad Chick brand has grown from 32 restaurants across six states to over 210 in 17 states. Through it all, our commitment to serving made-from-scratch food with fresh ingredients has remained steadfast. Last year was a testament to the success of our brand and our purpose, as we opened 30 new restaurants and achieved $255 million in systemwide sales.
Looking ahead, we’re gearing up to introduce the Chick brand to new states like Colorado and New Mexico. Our CSC Foundation continues to raise money for local food charities and to help in the fight against cancer, which took Chicken Salad Chick co-founder Kevin Brown’s life in 2015. Thanks to the success of our annual Giving Card program in 2021, we just donated over $105,000 to CURE Childhood Cancer and $315,000 to local food banks in the communities our restaurants serve.
We are proud to offer craveable, scratch-prepared meals served from the heart, and we are on our way to becoming America’s favorite place for chicken salad. We’ve stayed true to our purpose, handpicking each franchise owner we welcome to the brand, carefully growing in markets that resonate with our core values and serving fresh, Southern-style food to communities we genuinely care about.
What was your first job?
My first job was pumping gas in a full-service gas station at age 15.
What’s your favorite menu item at Chicken Salad Chick?
I love our Jalapeño Holly paired with our grape salad. I usually order the Jalapeño Holly as a scoop and eat it with jalapeño chips. The heat from the jalapeños paired with our sweet grape salad is the perfect combination.
What’s your favorite cuisine aside from Chicken Salad Chick?
I bounce back and forth between Mexican and Italian food. I love good tacos with chips and cheese dip. It is hard to beat a good chicken parmesan dinner as well.
Who inspires you as a leader?
There are too many to name. I have such admiration for leaders who can grow businesses over time and through different economic cycles, while being purpose driven. Russ Umphenour built a great company in the Arby’s system, and he helped people grow and develop into leaders, many of whom are CEOs of other companies. He continued that at Focus Brands and with us. Russ is a special person. Cheryl Bachelder and Patrick Doyle created significant shareholder value while instilling a culture of servant leadership and being forward-thinking. I’m also extremely impressed with the Cathy family and their Chick-fil-A business.
What’s the best piece of advice that other restaurant executives should hear?
Be smart and disciplined about growth. There is pressure to grow and be large, but too many times companies fail because they grow too quickly or stretch the boundaries of supply chain and the marketing reach. If you have a great company, work on keeping it great and grow in a measured way. Hire key people as you need them to support the growth.
What are some of your interests outside of work?
I am very lucky to have a great wife, Kristy, and three wonderful kids, Conner (16), Coleman (14) and Abbey (11). Much of my time outside of work is spent around them and their various activities. I love supporting each of them in school and their interests. Outside of that, I enjoy golf, reading, traveling, exercise and supporting my alma mater, the University of Georgia