A decade ago, Stacy Melton Brown never envisioned her Chicken Salad Chick business would become a huge franchise company.
Today, she’s ready to take it from 138 restaurants across 16 states to more than 500 — with the help of new private equity investors.
A native of Rome, Brown is a graduate of Darlington School and Auburn University. She detailed the origins and growth of Chicken Salad Chick for the Rome Rotary Club on Thursday afternoon.
“I have enjoyed every single job I’ve had as my role has changed over the years. I’ve scrubbed the floors and I’ve run the cash register. I’ve been at the drive-through and I’ve made sandwiches,” Brown said. “If you ever come to the Rome Chicken Salad Chick, you’ll see me in a hair net over the window and I’m making chicken salad.”
Recently, she was amazed at the reaction on social media to the sale this week of an undisclosed portion of her business from one equity partner, Eagle Merchant Partners, to another, Brentwood Associates.
“All these crazy things like, ‘So much for Chicken Salad Chick, they sold out to California.’ You’re still going to see me in there with a hair net on,” Brown said.
She said she couldn’t disclose what percentage of the business Brentwood actually acquired.
However, wire reports indicate that Eagle Merchant Partners acquired a majority interest in the company in 2015.
The deal with Brentwood was done to put Chicken Salad Chick into a better position for future growth, she said.
“And then it’s probably going to sell again. Or it might go public. Who knows?” Brown said.
Personal touches at her Rome location came from her husband King Braswell, who also owns a nursery called Blooming Colors and the Crepe Myrtle Cafe in Auburn, Alabama.
“He’s an artist with horticulture — if you can’t tell from the restaurant — so we partnered and each brought our expertise to build my dream restaurant in Rome,” Brown said. “It is truly a dream come true for us.”