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Stan Klaus, a restaurant-industry veteran, is the newest franchise partner for Arkansas-based Slim Chickens and will be developing 9 Slim Chickens restaurants across his territory, which includes Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville. Given its central location, Klaus will be relocating from Atlanta to Chattanooga which will serve as the hub for his expansion of Slim Chickens in the state of Tennessee.

About the company

• Name: Slim Chickens

• Started: Fayetteville, Ark., in 2003

• No. of locations: 15 units, 9 company owned and six franchised units

• Founders: Greg Smart and Tom Gordon

• Typical restaurant size: 100 to 125 seats

• Estimated 2014 revenues: $15 million to $20 million

• Goal: 600 restaurants by 2025

• Average meal price: Just over $8

• Tagline: "Life-changing Chicken"

• Who is slim? Slim is our nod to the life changing legends of the south--the musicians, the storytellers, the food and the soul...the eternally cool.

• Web site: www.slimchickens.com

Another fast-food chicken restaurant is about to land in Chattanooga.

At Atlanta franchisee for Slim Chickens is planning to open nine of the Delta blues-flavored chicken eateries in Tennessee with new eateries planned in Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville over the next several years. The additional units planned by Atlanta businessman Stan Klaus are among more than 500 Slim Chickens restaurants that its backers hope to add to the 11-year-old chain over the next decade or so to tap into America's growing appetite for poultry.

Stan Klaus, a restaurant industry veteran who worked with the founder of Applebee's to grow the chain through the 1980s and 1990s, says he got bored after retiring two years ago. Klaus, 59, said he was enticed back into the restaurant industry by the unique fare offered by Slim Chickens and its growth potential.

"When I went down to Fayetteville (Arkansas) and saw the concept and the people, I fell in love with it," said Klaus, who formed Life Changing Hospitality LLC to develop the new restaurants. "I spent seven weeks in Fayetteville working with these folks and I didn't talk to one dissatisfied customer."

Klaus said he hasn't identified any specific restaurant sites yet in Chattanooga for Slim Chickens locations, but he is familiar with the city. He once managed the Steak and Ale in Brainerd and his wife is a UTC graduate.

"We're looking at building from the ground up in strong locations, but we also will look at some possible some restaurant conversions, and I think there is opportunity in many areas of the cities we have targeted," Klaus said. "We're very community focused so we want to be very ingrained in the neighborhoods we serve."

Klaus said he will open at least a couple of Slim Chickens units in Tennessee next year and more in subsequent years.

Sam Rothschild, another former executive at Applebee's who joined Slim Chickens last year to help propel its growth, said chicken is the fastest growing part of the fast-food menu "and this restaurant has awesome food that I think will make it extremely popular in many markets.

"This brand has a real opportunity to grow," said Rothschild, the chief operating officer for Slim Chickens. "People have had enough of hamburgers and there is plenty of pizza already out there."

A recent report prepared by the restaurant research firm Technomic estimates that fast-food chicken revenues are up 10.8 percent this year over last and should continue to outpace their burger competitors.

Rothschild said Slim Chickens serves only fresh, never frozen, chicken tenders, buffalo wings, sandwiches, salads and wraps.

"We also offer more sides and appetizers and our boxes are unique -- featuring contemporary Delta blues -- and we believe our Southern hospitality is second to none," Rothschild said.

The wait staff brings the food to the table of diners, although 40 percent of the typical unit's sales are through the drive-through window. While munching on a variety of chicken fares ranging in price from a $6.99 chicks plate with three tenders to a five-tender, five wing to a $11.49 plate, patrons in the restaurant will hear a variety of Delta blues music from Ray Charles to Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Although born in Fayetteville, Ark., and focused on Delta blues themes, Rothschild sees the business growing across the United States and even into foreign countries.

"This is great concept that an work anywhere," he said.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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