A franchise called Chicken Salad Chick—which originated in Auburn, Ala., and has about 10 restaurants around the Southeast—is coming to downtown Chattanooga.
"It started in Auburn my senior year in school and I saw it's immediate success," Chattanooga franchisee Josh Patton said. "It just kind of blew up into a very successful and unique product."
Patton is from Nashville but is in the process of moving to Chattanooga, because founders weren't ready to branch all the way up to Middle Tennessee, he said.
In addition to the Chattanooga location, which is slated to open in January, there are stores in the works for Charleston, SC, and Montgomery, Ala., according to the company's website.
Patton said he has plans to open at least one more store in the East Brainerd area.
He's shooting for a Jan. 28 opening for the downtown location.
In 2008, Stacy Brown created the concept that would eventually become Chicken Salad Chick, company spokeswoman Ali Rauch said.
"Stacy quickly learned that selling a homemade recipe from her kitchen is against the law, and after being shut down by the health department, she decided to solicit the business expertise of her future husband and fellow founder, Kevin Brown," she said via email. "Together, they opened a small takeout restaurant which quickly grew to enormous demand and additional locations."
The fast-casual concept offers "custom-fit" chicken salad for customers with 15 different types to choose from.
Patton likened the different chicken salad options to different ice cream flavors at Baskin-Robbins. He said people can try samples, just like at ice cream shops.
"Our chicken salads feature 'chick names,' such as the Fancy Nancy, which features fuji apples, grapes, and pecans; and the Buffalo Barclay, which features hot wing sauce, fulfills anyone’s desire for chicken wings," Rauch said. "Chicken salad lovers and first-timers alike have come in and fallen in love with our fun, whimsical style of restaurant — both the food and the atmosphere."
Gourmet soups, side salads and freshly-baked desserts are also part of the experience.
The new Chattanooga location will be in the Miller Brothers Building at 629 Market St.
The restaurant will create between 25 and 30 part time and full time jobs, and seat about 75 in a main dining area.
There will also be a private dining area that seats 32, and Patton said that space can be used for business meetings or other events. The private room will have television and Wi-Fi, Patton also said.
The entire space will be 3,900 square feet, and starting a franchise typically costs between $222,000 and $386,200.
"This includes building and construction costs, franchise fees, equipment fees, etc," she said. "The actual cost depends upon the city and location, as each one requires different levels of construction."
Mesa Properties owns the building where the new restaurant will go, and the main tenant there now is Mesa Associates, Justin House with Mesa said.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee owned the building before selling it to Mesa in 2011, according to the Times Free Press.
For decades before that, the four-story building was home to Miller Brothers department store.
House said that there are preliminary plans to renovate the building, which currently also houses an optometrist's office and publishing company.
About 60 percent of the restaurant's business will be during lunch, so the proximity to downtown businesses was ideal for Patton, he said.
And House agreed the location is prime.
"It's a fantastic spot [for Chicken Salad Chick]," House said. "I think, with the direction downtown Chattanooga is moving, the added value is fantastic for the property owner, the tenant and members of the community."
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