Three Guys Wanted Fresh Chicken
It all started simple enough. Three guys – Ryan Hodson, Greg Smart and Tom Gordon – realized that there wasn’t a restaurant where they could eat a quick meal that actually served fresh chicken. They were tired of the big chains and local restaurants serving frozen chicken and trying to pass it off as “fresh tasting.” Notice the word “tasting.” Tom, Greg and Ryan did…in fact they noticed it everywhere. Restaurants couldn’t say their chicken was fresh because it wasn’t. They believed the concept was great, but at that point it was just a dream. They had little restaurant experience, no recipes, but they had a belief in their ability to realize their dream.
The next step was to develop the Slim Chicken’s product. They spent countless hours in Greg’s garage cooking chicken and making sauces. They invited everyone they knew to taste the food and sauces they prepared, and all of those “tasting parties” are what led to the Slim Chicken’s product they now serve. After they developed their signature sauces and recipes, the next step was to look into the restaurant industry and see why some restaurants were successful and why most failed. They found one common thread for success—quality of the product served and excellent customer service.
As for operating the restaurant, they knew the three of them could make it a success. The guys believed if they served exceptional chicken and dedicated themselves to their customers, their dream would come true. That is exactly how it worked. Sometimes being naive is an entrepreneur’s greatest asset.
They opened their first Slim’s in Fayetteville in February of 2003. The building they leased had an incredible failure rate for previous restaurants, so they had their work cut out for them. The first year consisted of the three guys working in that location day and night. They spent that time listening to their customers, modifying their product, and establishing the procedures to run a successful restaurant. With no money to spend on advertising, they had to rely on word-of-mouth advertising to grow their concept. They were amazed by the amount of repeat customers and the frequency those customers ate at Slim’s—four or five times a week was not rare. Obviously, all of the time they spent in Greg’s garage paid off with a product that people loved.
Now with over seven years behind them, the best customers they could ever wish for, dedicated employees and restaurants that are doing nothing but growing, the egg has hatched. (No pun intended.) Their homemade signature sauces, hand-breaded chicken tenders and fresh Buffalo wings have created such a demand that they’ve grown well beyond the little restaurant they started with. It all started because three guys wanted a place where they could eat some fresh chicken…