Get to Know the Chicken Salad Chick

chicken salad chick logoSeptember 21, 2012– ( After much anticipation the day had finally come; I was about to meet The Chicken Salad Chick. As I finally reached the Brown’s home, Stacy greeted us with a warm smile as she welcomed us into her kitchen, the birthplace of the Chicken Salad Chick Company.

Stacy was raised by her parents, Tom and Cheryl Melton, in Rome, Georgia. She says that her heart for serving others was instilled in her by watching her parents take care of anyone that needed help that happened to be in their path. Stacy is a 1999 Auburn University Alumni who graduated with a degree in Communications. She started a family, put a career on hold, and instead focused all of her efforts on her children. But when Stacy faced divorce in 2006, she found herself confronted with a huge dilemma. During her 10 years of marriage she developed a strong foundation for her children, not a career. She was challenged with supporting her children, but without removing the stability the children knew at such a critical time.The mental well being of her children was the most important thing at that time in their lives. So she knew she had to work from home somehow.

Stacey Brown, Founder Chicken Salad Chick Franchise

Stacey Brown, Founder Chicken Salad Chick Franchise

Since Stacy was a child, she has always had an obsession with finding the best chicken salad on the market. She went from one restaurant to another in search of perfection. After years of searching and sampling other chicken salad recipes, and being faced with the situation of survival, Stacy decided to take matters into her own hands. She began creating her own chicken salad, one that would stand out among the rest, and then began perfecting her signature original recipe. But creating the perfect chicken salad was not an easy task. However, with close friends, neighbors, and the business brain of Kevin Brown, it was made possible. She started making chicken salad at night from her kitchen and spending time with her children and delivering during the day.

After knocking on doors and delivering to a growing group of homes, word was spreading of Stacy’s delicious recipe. Stacy’s late night renegade chicken salad operation began booming and soon caught the attention of the Lee County Health Department. An inspector from the Heath Department contacted Stacy and asked, “Where are you cooking your chicken?” Stacy replied, “In my kitchen… is that a problem?” Indeed, the inspector replied, “Yes… that is illegal. You cannot cook anything in your home and sell it.” Thus, Stacy was forced to stop everything for the time being. It was then that Kevin Brown’s business advice turned him into a business partner. They decided to go into business together and open up a small takeout only spot on Opelika Road with no plans to expand.

Throughout the next couple of months Stacy and Kevin spent countless hours transforming their new space. From laying floors to painting walls, opening day was drawing near. Then, on January 7, 2008, the doors of Chicken Salad Chick were opened for the first time. Their goal was to sell at least forty pounds of Chicken Salad on the first day, but from 10 to 11 a.m. the restaurant was empty. For the next fifteen minutes, Stacy thought, “What have we done? What a stupid idea! Who opens a restaurant solely on chicken salad? Pack it up! We are a failure!” Then the first customer walked in at 11:15 a.m., and it was as if the floodgates had been opened. The restaurant became full as people lined the sidewalk, and Chicken Salad Chick sold out in two hours. The next day, Stacy and Kevin made 80 pounds of Chicken Salad but they were again sold out in less than two hours. Kevin looked at Stacy and said, “I think we might have something here.”

Business was booming, and word was spreading quickly. Their sales grew day by day, always exceeding the previous day’s business. What started with one small restaurant on Opelika Road has quickly grown into three restaurants locally and eighteen franchise locations to soon open across the southeast, each serving the fifteen different variations of Stacy’s original chicken salad.

Stacy says she has learned alot through this whole process. If someone tells you ‘no’ and you are willing to give up without a fight, you haven’t found your true passion yet. But understand passion is different from strength.” Stacy believes a major key to success is to identify one’s own strengths and weaknesses. “Don’t be afraid of weakness,” she emphasizes. “If there are things you aren’t particularly good at, surround yourself with people who have a passion for what your weaknesses are. Then you can be strong on all levels.”Stacy has a passion for serving and Kevin has a passion for efficiency. Together, they have been able to build a concept that consistently offers a great product. It’s Kevin’s passion for efficiency that makes the product consistent, and it’s Stacy’s heart for serving that makes the Chicken Salad Chick an environment guests enjoy. For these two entrepreneurs the road was not always easy, but they made it happen with the help and support of their staff, friends, and family. Stacy says, “Not only does it take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to make a successful business. Kevin and I are so grateful that our village happens to be the loveliest village on the plains.”

The menu at Chicken Salad Chick is also unique and different. There are fifteen types of chicken salad on the menu, all with names reflecting real people who inspired and supported the couple along the way; quirky names such as Classic Carol, Buffalo Barclay, Jalapeno Holly, Jazzy Julie, Fancy Nancy and Fruity Fran are how the Chicken Salad Chick differentiates their flavors. This is just a small way that Stacy and Kevin were able to show their appreciation and gratitude to their support system.

In the middle of this whirlwind, Kevin and Stacy decided to make their partnership all encompassing. The couple took four days to fly to Jamaica for quick nuptials, returning to a blended family of six and a restaurant on the verge of really taking off. Since that day in November of 2008, they have been aboard a fast train ride with no end in sight. The couple attributes their success to all of the people that have surrounded their passion from the beginning. They are so grateful for the support of their parents, their loyal customers, enthusiastic team members who happily serve their guests, and their staff in the franchising company that is working so diligently to help satisfy the towns across the south that are demanding Chicken Salad Chicks.

From the beginning Stacy and Kevin wanted to create and provide the best chicken salad experience anyone could ask for. The process was more challenging at times than expected, but that has not slowed down this determined couple. Stacy had a vision and with the help of her now husband, Kevin, they have succeeded in creating a top-notch restaurant spreading throughout the southeast.

They may not have expected to become such budding restauranteurs in the beginning, but you go where the journey takes you. This is only the beginning for this hardworking and determined couple and I am excited to see what new flavors the Chicken Salad Chick will come up with next.

So to answer the age-old question: What came first the chicken or the egg? The answer is easy for Stacy Brown: the chicken, of course.“


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