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How Stacy Browns drive created one of the fastest-growing food chains in America:Chicken Salad Chick

Chicken Salad Chick is in Apple Glen Crossing located in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

This story is not about a Fort Wayne Resident but rather a story of an entrepreneur that has never given up on her dreams. We will be sharing the story of Stacy Brown, the founder of Chicken Salad Chick. We have heard tons of stories from founders, CEOs, and leaders but Stacy Brown’s story stuck out to us when we heard it for the first time several months ago. When we found out that Chicken Salad Chick was coming to Fort Wayne we knew we had to share her story with all of you.

Chicken Salad Chic is new to Jefferson pointe, Apple Glen Blvd in South West Allen County

Stacy Brown has had quite the entrepreneurial journey leading her to where her company is today. In 2006, in Auburn Alabama, Stacy Brown had become a single mother of 3 children all under the age of 6 after her husband walked out on their family. With a drive to still be able to stay home and take care of her children, and a passion for cooking, she decided to use her skills to create the greatest chicken salad and sell it door-to-door. At this time her only goal was to make enough money to make ends meet for her family but she had no idea how to run a business. This was when she decided to enlist the help of a family friend and entrepreneur, Kevin Brown. With his help, she was able to set up a more structured business and was off to the races. Her chicken salad became popular quickly and within a few months, someone called her into the health department. She soon found out that making food out of an unlicensed kitchen and selling it to people was illegal and she was shut down immediately. Throughout the first few months in business, Stacy created such a large client base that even after being shut down people were still inquiring about getting her famous chicken salad. She did not want to sell anything illegally so with the encouragement to continue and the help of Kevin, they opened a small 800-square-foot restaurant with a drive-through window, where she could continue selling her chicken salad, legally. On their very first day in business, all of their family and friends showed up to support them but when she looked around she realized they didn't have any actual customers. After being consumed by thoughts of doubt, a customer finally walked through the door! Soon after they had customers showing up one after the other, and within 2 hours they were completely sold out. Day after day they were continuously selling out no matter how prepared they felt they were. They were working tirelessly to keep up with the demand but they were not making any money. After doing this day in and day out Kevin finally stopped Stacy and told her they needed to shut it down but she was relentless. Kevin realized nothing was going to stop Stacy from pursuing this passion so he took it upon himself to create a better process to ensure they could reach profitability. Within a year they were making money and with that money, they opened 2 more restaurants in Auburn. Another exciting thing happened in that first year as well, Kevin and Stacy fell in love. They got married in November 2008 and were now a blended family with 3 children and 3 restaurants to run. Kevin and Stacy were constantly being approached by people with hopes of franchising their restaurant but they never felt very confident with the idea so they continuously placed it on the back burner. This was until 2010 when they finally decided to start working on the documents and plans to start franchising. They soon realized they had no idea how to franchise this company properly so they started looking for someone that did. They were introduced to another husband and wife who were familiar with this process and they made the decision to partner with them. The catch was that the other couple wanted 51% of the business. After several conversations, Kevin and Stacy decided to take the deal. Soon after partnering they realized they made a terrible mistake and things started rapidly going downhill. Kevin and Stacy approached their partners and told them they wanted to dissolve their partnership. The husband responded by reminding them that he and his wife own 51% of the business and that they could actually fire them if they wanted to. After this conversation Kevin and Stacy went to the Board of Directors and the board told the couple that they needed to at least give Kevin and Stacy the opportunity to buy them out since they were the founders of the business. They agreed and presented them with a buyout price that was 3 times the amount that they had originally bought into the business only 4 months earlier. This number was 1.3 million dollars and they gave them 30 days to meet their terms. So, Kevin and Stacy went out and pitched to any investor that would listen. With only 2 days left on their 30-day clock, they were able to find an investor.

After regaining control of their business and with the help of their new investor they were able to hire people that could build the infrastructure to franchise the company and soon after they were able to open their first franchise in Montgomery, Alabama. After opening several franchise locations Kevin and Stacy wanted to hold a conference for all the franchise owners. During this conference, Kevin was experiencing major pain but pushed through until he could get into his doctor when they returned home. Sadly, at the age of 38, Kevin was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer that metastasized to his liver. After a few days, Kevin approached Stacy and told her about his next mission, creating a foundation to help those who where also fighting against this disease. This was when the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation was created. He was determined to raise money to help with Colon Cancer research and wanted to put on a concert where all proceeds would go straight to the cause. His vision was that it would be held at Jordan Hare Football Stadium in Aurbun, Alabama with Kenny Chesney as the headliner. He accomplish just that, but sadly Kevin lost his battle with colon cancer on November 21st, 2015, 5 months before the event. The concert was held in April 2016 and 50,000 people showed up to support the cause and the foundation was able to donate $200,000 to the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. His legacy continues as the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation is still a large part of the company. Today, they’ve expanded their mission, and alongside trying to find a cure for cancer they are also making strides to help fight against hunger in America. The Chicken Salad Chick Foundation has teamed up with all 225+ Chicken Salad Chick locations throughout the US and make frequent donations to local food banks and charities in their areas.

We are thrilled that Chicken Salad Chick has decided to open up a location right here in Fort Wayne with a location near the Jefferson Pointe Shopping Center, sharing a building with Chipotle. 1715 Apple Glen Blvd Suite 103, Fort Wayne, IN 46804. They will be opening their doors on April 26th and we couldn't be more excited. With options ranging from spicy to sweet, fruity to nutty, and special names picked out for each one of them, named after people Stacy loves, there is a chicken salad flavor for everyone to enjoy.

We want to give all thanks to How I built this for inspiring us to listen and share her story. To hear more check out the NPR podcast:

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Have a business story you would like to share: or mail us at 6435 West Jefferson Blvd #157 Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804

We are for Fort Wayne Business Journal, Talking to business owner, and Entrepreneurs that are making a impact in Fort Wayne Community


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