Restaurant founder worked to perfect chicken salad.
One of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the country is coming to Ormond Beach. A Chicken Salad Chick is set to open October 6 at 75 N. Nova Road (the intersection with Sterthaus Drive.)
The company started selling franchise locations in January, 2012, and sold 18 within one month, according to Ali Rauch, director of marketing. There are currently 130 franchises of the “fast casual” restaurant.
The Ormond Beach location will have 15 flavors of chicken salad as well as homemade side-salads, deli sandwiches, gourmet soups and baked desserts. Chicken salad is considered Southern, and the décor of the restaurant will be like a “living room in the South,” according to franchise owner Buck Harris.
The company was named one of 10 Breakout Brands for 2015 by Nation’s Restaurant News; it was number 37 in Fast Casual Magazine’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers; and was named an Emerging Concept to Watch by QSR Magazine, a trade publication for the fast food industry.
Buck and his wife, Brooklyn, are no strangers to the area or restaurants with chicken on the menu. He worked in his dad’s Chick-fil-A, starting at the age of 8, and later ran his own location in Ormond Beach for 14 years.
Harris said he likes the story of the Chicken Salad Chick founder, Stacy Brown, of Auburn, Alabama, who is the original “chick.”
As the story goes, Brown noticed that every restaurant she would visit had its own version of chicken salad, often with too much mayonnaise or other ingredient. So, Brown worked at home until she came up with the perfect recipe. She gave her salads to neighbors, and they became so popular that she and her husband opened a restaurant and later offered franchises.
Buck Harris expects the restaurant to bring 35 to 40 jobs, including several part-time.
He said the chicken will be fresh and cooked with steam.
“There’s not going to be a fryer in back,” Harris said.
The Harrises are both health-conscious, and say they can eat at the restaurant every day.
Brooklyn Harris is originally from Albany, Georgia, and agrees chicken salad is a Southern thing.
“I always ordered the chicken salad,” she said.
She also said she’s excited to bring something new to the area.
Her husband is from Thomasville, Georgia, and has been in Ormond for 19 years.
The restaurant will have a drive-thru, and ingredients will be available for purchase by the pound so people can make their own chicken salad at home. They also will offer catering, which can be buffet style, or with executive box lunches.
Buck Harris said he’s always enjoyed the fast casual food business, because he loves the customers and enjoys working with the employees. He tries to influence the lives of the employees, helping them to set goals or make a budget, for example.
“I want to not just be an employer,” he said. “I talk to them about their personal life.”
He said he’s going to be very selective in hiring, and only wants out-going personalities with a “heart for service.”
The Harrises are expecting their first child, and in keeping with the theme of the restaurant, it’s going to be a girl, or a “chick.”
Another reason Harris went with the franchise is that they are going to allow him to be the franchisee for all of Volusia County. He has an agreement to open three in the county, and hopes to open more.