Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - 16

The
CHICKEN
SALAD
Chick
Quest for perfect chicken salad
recipe leads to national franchise
By Karon Warren
W
hen Stacy Brown decided to create the perfect chicken-salad
recipe to sell to her friends and family, she wasn't dreaming
about building a restaurant empire. It was 2007, and the
Auburn, Ala., resident was hoping her plan would provide income to
support her children after her divorce.
" Because I valued [chicken salad] so much, I thought other people
would [also] value homemade chicken salad if it were really good, " Brown
says. " My goal was to craft a recipe that would make people crave more.
" I thought I was a connoisseur of chicken salad, which is funny to me
now because so many people come into the restaurants and say they are
chicken-salad connoisseurs, and I really thought I was unique. I thought I
was the only one obsessed with chicken salad. Little did I know there were
many closet chicken-salad lovers out there. "
Brown, who grew up in Rome, sampled chicken salad everywhere she
could to see what others put in their recipes. After concocting many
different versions, having friends and family members taste-test them and
making tweaks based on feedback, Brown came up with her signature
recipe: the Classic Carol, which features shredded, all-white-meat chicken,
finely minced celery, mayonnaise and Brown's secret seasoning.
With the recipe decided, Brown started making her chicken salad
at home, taking orders from friends and family and delivering them to
her customers. She adopted the name Chicken Salad Chick because she
thought it would help people understand her business concept. The
response was amazing, and Brown was thrilled that her plan was working.
She was making a product she loved and was earning the money she
needed to care for her children.
She decided to take on a business consultant, Kevin Brown (who
would later become her husband), to advise her on how to build a
successful business at home. But there was a speed bump ahead.
One afternoon, Brown received a call from the Lee County (Ala.)
16 Georgia Magazine April 2022
Stacy Brown and her late husband, Kevin,
founded Chicken Salad Chick, the fi rst
and only fast-casual chicken salad
restaurant franchise in the country.
Health Department asking her where she was cooking
the chicken. When she said she was making it
at home, the official said that was a violation of the
county health codes.
" In the moment, it was devastating, " Brown says.
" My plan of staying at home with the kids and being
able to pay the bills had come to a crashing halt. "
Brown was told that an anonymous caller
reported her to the health department. Looking back,
she's very thankful for that person.
" I was cooking so much, and it was just me, " she
says. " With three small kids, it became too much for
one person. That call really launched the next step. "
Expansion begins
Brown moved her business into an 800-squarefoot
space in Auburn that had enough room for a
kitchen-outfitted with residential kitchen equipment-and
a small lobby. Her goal was to serve
customers with carryout orders at the front counter
and at a drive-thru window.
" This was very homespun, " she says. " We didn't
think it was going to be that big of a deal. "
COURTESY CHICKEN SALAD CHICK

Georgia Magazine - April 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - April 2022

Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - 4
Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - 5
Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - 6
Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - 7
Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - 8
Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - 9
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Georgia Magazine - April 2022 - Cover3
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