From Kitchen to Storefront
Chicken Salad Chick
The dinner table holds a special place in Southern culture, as a place to break bread and to be with family, and Stacy Brown—the “Chicken Salad Chick”—has spent her life learning just what she can bring to the table. As a child, her entrepreneurial father used the family dinner table as a place to brainstorm business ideas. She was expected to come to dinner ready to propose ventures and new products, a practice that sparked the pioneering spirit that eventually led to the founding of the Chicken Salad Chick restaurant franchise.
The idea for the restaurant was born out of turmoil, when Stacy’s divorce shifted her from life as a stay-at-home-mom to the primary provider for her three children. Rather than forfeit time at home with her kids, Stacy found a way to remain at home while earning a living: she decided to perfect the art of chicken salad by experimenting with recipes she could sell straight out of her home kitchen. Months of tweaking and taste-testing led to the creation of the “perfect” chicken salad, which Stacy brought to the tables of her friends, neighbors, and the Auburn community.
Soon after the creation of the chicken salad itself, a friend created the logo—the same logo featuring the chick herself found now on each Chicken Salad Chick restaurant—and Stacy began advertising by putting the logo on a magnet on her car with her phone number. Her phone started ringing off the hook with calls from parents in the carpool line, patrons at the grocery store, and residents all over Auburn; no one could get enough of what quickly built up the reputation for the best chicken salad in the city.
But then, disaster struck. Stacy received a call from the Lee County Health Department, who informed her that selling food out of her home’s kitchen was illegal. Instead of bringing the Chicken Salad Chick to an end, this marked a new beginning. Stacy and her business partner (and future husband) Kevin Brown decided to open a storefront to continue selling the wildly popular chicken salad. They quickly discovered that two people and a tiny operation in Opelika couldn’t sustain the amount of demand generated by a community that loved Stacy’s recipe. In the tiny kitchen attached to the store, Stacy cooked unbelievable amounts of chicken and produced pounds and pounds of chicken salad every day, continuing to sell out ceaselessly.
Small beginnings begot an enormous undertaking: what began as an amateur chicken salad operation out of Stacy’s personal kitchen has now grown into the Chicken Salad Chick franchise with 55 locations open across the South, each dedicated to providing the communion of a shared meal and fifteen delicious variations on Stacy’s perfected chicken salad recipe. Each different flavor is named after a friend or family member, like the Classic Carol, the Fruity Fran, or the Fancy Nancy—a reminder that this restaurant is about people as much as it’s about the perfect chicken salad. When you sit down to eat at Chicken Salad Chick, you partake in a legacy of courage, innovation, and true Southern grit that led a single mother to forge a new path to support her children and put food on the table for an entire community.