If you’re watching TV or scrolling social media these days, there’s a good chance you’ll see an ad promoting a fast-food chain’s fried chicken sandwich. Chick-fil-A. Popeyes. KFC. The most recognizable brands are constantly duking it out over screens and across social media in the ongoing Chicken Sandwich Wars. Next year, foodies in the Reno market will have a new contender to chew on. Slim Chickens plans to open four locations in Northern Nevada over the next few years, the Arkansas-based franchise announced in early June, with the help of franchisee Roy Perez, a seasoned restaurant entrepreneur who owns and operates eight Jimboy’s Tacos in the Sacramento area. “Slim Chickens is the exact type of brand I’ve been looking for to expand my investment portfolio,” Perez said. “I knew I wanted to get into the fresh chicken category and once I met the executive team and learned more about where the brand was headed, right away I knew it was the right fit for me.” Perez, who boasted about the quality of Slim Chickens’ all-natural products, said he’s excited to introduce a new, “better chicken” brand to the Biggest Little City. Slim Chickens’ Southern-inspired menu includes sandwiches, tenders, wraps, chicken-and-waffles, salads, fries, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, soft drinks and desserts. The chain also offers 17 house-made dipping sauces.
Arkansas-based Slim Chickens, a fast-casual chicken brand with more than 100 locations across the U.S., plans to expand to Reno-Sparks as soon as next year. Courtesy Photo
The look and feel of a Slim Chickens franchise, Perez said, emits Southern hospitality and a family atmosphere. The restaurants feature an open and inviting layout, filled with big-screen TVs, New Orleans-style music and eye-catching logos and graphics. “When you walk in, it’s a really good vibe,” he said. “I think Reno is going to be pleasantly surprised at what we do. I think Reno is going to welcome us. We’re really excited to show it off.” Slim Chickens plans to break ground on its first Northern Nevada location by early 2022, with a second restaurant expected to follow six months later. Noting the franchise has not pinned down exact locations yet, Perez said the brand is looking at both north and south Reno, as well as the northern section of Sparks. Slim Chickens’ expansion here would not only mark the chain’s first restaurants in the Silver State, but also its farthest extension west. “I think Reno is right in the strike zone based on the success they’re having in markets like Colorado and Utah,” Perez said. “We’re just slowly working our way over to Nevada.” Perez expects most locations would be built from the ground up, though remodeling an existing building will be considered. The average restaurant will be roughly 2,800 square feet, with drive-thru and curbside services. Designs may also feature outdoor patio dining spaces, Perez said, adding that every new location would create roughly 50 part-time and full-time jobs. Founded in 2003 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Slim Chickens operates more than 129 locations across the world, with the majority in the U.S. The company, which recently launched a strategic growth initiative to reach 700 units in 10 years, says it currently has more than 600 locations in development. While ambitious growth strategies might seem dicey during a pandemic that shook up the restaurant industry, Slim Chickens has continued to be profitable since COVID hit. According to a report by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the company saw its revenue across all stores increase 35% in 2020.