April 04, 2012 // Franchising.com // Auburn, Ala. – Chicken Salad Chick founders Stacy and Kevin Brown formally announced today their partnership with Debbie and Kelley Mossburg and the formation of Simply Southern Restaurant Group, a company that will serve as the exclusive franchisor of the popular eatery and grow the business primarily through franchise unit expansion throughout the southeastern United States.
“Since opening our first takeout restaurant in 2008, we have had enormous interest from individuals and businesses across the Southeast in opening Chicken Salad Chicks franchises,” said Ms. Brown. “In order to meet customer demand, Kevin and I knew we needed partners who shared our value system and had expertise in both franchising and the national food industry. We were introduced to the Mossburgs and we knew they were the perfect complement to our culinary and operational expertise.”
Kelley Mossburg, who will serve as President and CEO of Simply Southern Restaurant Group, spent much of his career working for large Fortune 100 companies, such as PepsiCo, where he worked in two of its operating divisions -- Frito Lay and KFC. While at KFC, he was the senior executive in charge of the company’s training and development for all corporate restaurants in the United States. After leaving PepsiCo, Mr. Mossburg served as Chief Operating Officer of CNL Financial Group which, as the time, was the nation’s largest hotel, restaurant, and leisure REIT company. Most recently, he was President and General Manager of one of the largest beverage distribution companies in the country. He is a 1977 graduate of Auburn University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
Debbie Hayes Mossburg will serve as Vice President of Marketing. Ms. Mossburg is responsible for the development and oversight of all marketing programs and materials for the company and represents the franchisor at tradeshows and conferences. Previously, Ms. Mossburg was a franchise owner of an international health and fitness company and has been recognized for her exceptional skills in sales and marketing. She is a 1978 graduate of Auburn University where she earned her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education.
Kevin Brown said, “Since our first day on Opelika Road in Auburn, Stacy’s and my goal was to offer the freshest food, made of the highest quality ingredients and served in a genuine way. Kelley and Debbie really get that and will help us ensure that each franchisee offers the same experience.”
Part of the franchisor’s role is refreshing the Chicken Salad Chick brand including the company’s logo, website and social media presence. The updated branding offers a modern and whimsical twist on Chicken Salad Chick restaurants that are serving the beloved Southern classic. The new branding initiative for the restaurant chain began in late March and will be released over the course of the next few months, aiming not only to entice consumers, but also to attract potential new franchisees.
“Findings from our recent focus groups demonstrate that Chicken Salad Chick was perceived as a fresh, fun alternative to traditional fasts food options,” says Ms. Mossburg. “The new ‘face’ of our restaurants leverages our brand’s personality and highlights a quick service industry niche that has not been filled until now.”
Elements of the new branding campaign include:
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) reports that industry sales in 2011 exceeded $600 billion for the first time in history. Despite the fact that the recession has caused revenues across the industry to fall each of the three preceding years, 2011 saw an increase of 3.6 percent over 2010. Currently, the restaurant space accounts for more than half of U.S. consumers’ food dollars, primarily driven by the population’s ever-expanding desire for convenience, value and socialization. And, according to Stacy Brown, their desire for “the perfect chicken salad!”
The quick service industry in which Chicken Salad Chick operates registered more than $167.8 billion in sales in 2011, a 3.3 percent increase over 2010. Regionally, Alabama saw a 3.1 percent increase in revenues from the prior year. Customers who had previously gone to full-service concepts have shifted their spending patterns to higher value alternatives in the QSR space where average ticket prices can be as much as 50 to 60 percent less than the full service counterparts.
Chicken Salad Chick, the nation’s newest, fast-casual restaurant concept, is offered by Auburn, AL-based Simply Southern Restaurant Group led by experienced food and operations executives and the founders of Chicken Salad Chick. The concept offers customers a palate-pleasing chicken salad experience, with 15 original flavors to choose from, as well as gourmet soups, flavorful side salads and freshly-baked desserts. Corporate offices are located at 852 North Dean Road in Auburn, Alabama. Phone 334-275-4578.
Carolyn B. Gosselin