LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – Arkansas has a selection of original, delicious restaurants. But some are branching out and taking Arkansas to new heights.
It’s part of the official, yet unofficial ‘Fantastic Food Week’ here on THV11. We're focusing on Arkansas restaurants that are spreading outside the state.
"This is a lifestyle," said Rob Byford, a franchisee of Slim Chickens. "You have to embrace or it'll eat you alive."
The job consists of long hours, getting into work at 8 a.m. and leaving at midnight. “We didn't make any money for almost the first three years, three or four years," he said.
A few do make it big. Including Arkansas' own Slim Chickens.
"We're the largest restaurant to ever come out of the state of Arkansas," said Byford.
He was one of the original employees at the first Fayetteville location back in 2003. He said their belief was if everyone worked hard they wouldn’t fail. That’s exactly what they did, they worked hard. This led them to grow. In 2009, seven locations opened in 26 months. Slim Chickens now has 50 plus locations, in 16 states. One is even in Kuwait City, Kuwait.
"If you don't take a jump, your parachute won't open," he said.
Byford branched out to become a franchisee and bought seven locations in Arkansas. Like every Slim Chickens, it's built around serving fresh chicken, cooked to order.
"And we do that with a touch of southern hospitality," he added.
While most people know Slim Chickens for the taste, Byford said it's never been about the food.
"It's about people," he said. "It’s about changing lives for all our employees, we want to see them come in at one job, then leave in a better position when they leave. Whether a promotion in our company or a better job somewhere else. I'm here to create jobs. And serve good food in the process."
Slim Chickens is planning for 600 restaurants in the next seven to eight years. For a list of all the locations or just a peek at their menu, click here.
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