Haley and Shane Pinder will open Wilmington’s first Chicken Salad Chick location at The Forum shopping center on Military Cutoff Road on Nov. 6.
The Pinders relocated to the Port City from Virginia last year after learning that the franchise was looking to expand into the Wilmington market.
“We have friends in Georgia who operate several locations and we fell in love with the brand,” Haley Pinder said. “We had vacationed here and are so excited to be at the coast.”
The Pinders said one of the things that drew them to the brand is its focus on family. With two children themselves, they said they understand the importance of a work-life balance, and aim to provide that for their employees.
Chicken Salad Chick was founded by Stacy Brown, a single mother who began by selling chicken salad out of her home to support her children. This year the franchise will celebrate its 150th franchise opening.
“We’re a very family-friendly brand in all aspects,” Haley Pinder said. “It’s important that our employees have a life outside of work.”
Chicken Salad Chick uses only hand-shredded chicken tenderloins in the 12 flavors of chicken salad which they prepare daily. Customers can choose a scoop, a sandwich, or a trio consisting of a scoop, a side and a cup of soup. In addition to chicken salad, the restaurant serves pimento cheese, egg salad, green salads and signature sandwiches such the turkey club, and turkey pesto.
There is also a “little chicks” menu for those under 10. The Pinders encourage diners to ask for samples so they can branch out from their favorites and try something new.
“There’s a real consistency across the brand,” Shane Pinder said. “And we have an open kitchen to allow our employees to see the joy they’re bringing to our customers. They’re putting love into everything they make and we want them to feel that love in return.”
The restaurant features a grab-n-go cooler and all salads can be ordered in larger quantities to feed a crowd at home. Additionally, they offer a full catering menu and have a private room that can be reserved for events of all types during non-peak hours.
Another driving factor for the Pinders was customer’s loyalty to the brand.
“It’s very well known throughout the South,” Shane Pinder said.
He explained that several out of town visitors have tried to come in to eat after spotting their location.
“They all tell us how often they go in Charlotte or wherever they’re from and how happy to see that we’re now at the beach. We’ve even had people from Myrtle Beach and Fayetteville stopping in to say that they can’t wait until we’re open because we’ll be the closest location for them.”
The Pinders said that six Chicken Salad Chick locations are due to open in the Raleigh market in the near future.
“We believe the expansion within that market will be helpful to us as well because everyone likes to come down to the beach,” Shane Pinder said.
While The Forum was always the Pinders' first choice, there wasn’t anything available there when they first started the search for property last year.
They originally settled upon a different location, but when construction issues caused the deal to fall through, it just so happened that a space in The Forum had opened up. The former Wells Fargo location has been completely gutted and redone in Chicken Salad Chicks signature cheerful colors and design.
“Chicken salad is a comfort food, and we love seeing customers gathered together, sharing their day and walking out with a smile,” Shane Pinder said.
With their franchise agreement the Pinders will have the opportunity to open several locations in the area and say that while they have a few spots in mind, they will use customer feedback to drive their decisions, and hope to have a drive-thru option at one or more of the locations.
In celebration of its grand opening, Chicken Salad Chick will be giving away free chicken salad for a year to the first 100 customers on Nov. 6, (some restrictions do apply) as well as holding additional drawings for free chicken salad throughout the day. The first 100 guests on Nov. 7 will receive a free scoop of the Classic Carol chicken salad with the purchase of a Chick Special, the first 50 guests on Nov. 8 will receive a free tumbler with the purchase of a Chick Trio, and on Nov. 9, the one of the first 50 guests to purchase two large Quick Chicks will receive a large Chicken Salad Chick cooler.
Chicken Salad Chick, 1131A Military Cutoff Road, will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
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