Expansion-minded national and regional chicken restaurant chains have recognized Colorado Springs’ rapid growth in recent years and flocked to town with a variety of concepts: fried, grilled and rotisserie style; tenders, wings and sandwiches; barbecued, marinated and spicy.
Now, another chicken newcomer is getting ready to roost in the Springs.
Chicken Salad Chick, a southern-style, fast-casual restaurant concept that specializes in its signature chicken salad dishes, will open its first Colorado Springs location on the city’s northeast side in April or May.
Husband-and-wife franchisees David and Kirsten Garrett, and Kirsten’s mother, Judy DeVincentis, plan to open the first of three Colorado Springs locations at the Plaza at Barnes West retail center, northwest of Powers Boulevard and Barnes Road, Kirsten Garrett said.
The restaurant will take over a 2,800-square-foot space that had been occupied by Duca’s Neapolitan Pizza. The location will have indoor seating for upward of 72 people, she said, as well as patio seating, curbside pickup and catering, though no drive-thru. It will employ about 15 to 25 people.
The chain’s locations are closed on Sundays, similar to Chick-fil-A, another chicken restaurant with a strong presence in Colorado Springs.
A second Chicken Salad Chick is targeted in the Briargate area of northern Colorado Springs and could open in late 2023 or early 2024, Kirsten Garrett said. The franchisees also are looking for a third site, she said.
Chicken Salad Chick was founded in 2008 in Auburn, Ala., by stay-at-home mom Stacy Brown who began to market her homemade chicken salad that was popular with her family, according to the chain’s website and LinkedIn page. Now based in Atlanta, Chicken Salad Chick has more than 225 restaurants, about 75% of which are franchised.
Kirsten Garrett, who was born in Durango, raised in Montrose and who said she’s always loved Colorado Springs, has been a Chicken Salad Chick fan since she and David met and served together several years ago at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
While still in the Air Force, Kirsten became a Colorado Springs franchisee for FirstLight Home Care, an in-home care provider for seniors and adults. She and David, who grew up in Birmingham, Ala., moved to the Springs in 2014; she had completed her service, though David continued serving at the Air Force Academy until he retired two years later.
Kirsten said she had expressed interest in becoming a Chicken Salad Chick franchisee years ago, but the chain wasn’t ready to expand to Colorado at that time.
About a year ago, Chicken Salad Chick contacted Kirsten’s sister-in-law, who also had shown interest in being a Colorado franchisee; her sister-in-law declined, but referred the chain to Kirsten, who said she embraced the chance.
Chicken Salad Chick offers a dozen varieties of chicken salad that can be served in a scoop; the menu also features sandwiches, soups, salads, pimento cheese, egg salad and mac and cheese, among other items.
“It is fresh, never frozen, it’s not fried,” Kirsten said of the chain’s popularity. “It’s the best chicken salad you’ve ever had, for sure. You might find a couple small cafes that make a chicken salad, but there’s nothing that does it (like Chicken Salad Chick).”
The food is served cold, which enables diners to grab meals and take them home to eat over the next few days. While going back to Alabama for visits, Kirsten said she would stock up on Chicken Salad Chicken meals and bring them back to Colorado.
Kirsten said she expects Chicken Salad Chick to appeal to health-conscious diners in Colorado Springs, while the brand also might be familiar to members of the military who’ve eaten at the restaurants in other states.
Most Chicken Salad Chick locations are in the south, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia, the chain’s website shows. The chain also has a handful of locations in Midwest states such as Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
Chicken Salad Chick’s westward move to Colorado Springs and Colorado marks a major expansion for the brand, Kirsten said. Another five locations are planned in Castle Rock and south, five more in the Greeley and Fort Collins areas and potential franchisees are looking at north Denver, she said.
Chicken Salad Chick joins Louisiana-based Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Slim Chickens of Arkansas and Denver-based Birdcall as chicken-centric restaurants that have expanded to Colorado Springs in recent years. Chick-fil-A, KFC and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen are among well-known national brands with multiple locations in the Springs.