When it comes to opening new units, Dennis Ekstrom is a dedicated franchisee. “I just can’t stop. I don’t know how to press the stop button or the pause button,” Ekstrom said.
Ekstrom signed a deal last year to open 10 Slim Chickens stores in New Mexico and El Paso, Texas, and has already signed another deal for 13 more stores in Wyoming and Las Vegas.
“I didn’t just jump up and get my feet wet, I got my hair wet,” Ekstrom said.
Ekstrom has only one store open since its original deal, with four more in the works for Albuquerque and two on the way to El Paso. Arkansas-based Slim Chickens has more than 180 restaurants open.
“The week we opened the first location ‘in Farmington, New Mexico,’ we set a company record for the brand. So that’s pretty exciting,” Ekstrom said. leaked the filing.The average gross sales of Slim Chickens in 2021 were $2.36 million.
Ekstrom also has Denny’s and Del Taco units in its portfolio. He sold 94 Denny’s units in 2019 – “Talk about luck.” – and he still has 17 Del Tacos and five Denny’s on his list.
“I have a real passion and love for Del Taco and Denny’s, and now my new love – or should I say my other love – is this Slim Chickens brand,” Ekstrom said. “I really, really think it’s a great mix of my portfolio and fits in well.”
He compared Slim Chickens to In-and-Out Burger, in that its menu is simple but all dishes are very well prepared. Denny’s and Del Taco have larger menus, Ekstrom said, so he was excited about the simplicity of Slim Chickens.
It signed the deal for 13 new stores in different markets even before the opening of its first store in New Mexico. “I thought to myself, you know, New Mexico and El Paso are not going to be enough for me. It’s not going to fuel my appetite,” Ekstrom said.
It’s hard to stand out in the ever-growing chicken market, but Ekstrom said Slim Chickens leapfrogs its competitors in quality and taste. The brand offers tenders, wings, sandwiches, wraps, chicken and waffles, and salads. The sides, such as fried pickles, fried okra, and mac and cheese, are some of Ekstrom’s best.
“Good sides are hard to find anywhere,” he said.
In the next 10 years, Ekstrom sees himself with 25 to 30 Slim Chickens open. The initial investment required to open a Slim Chickens franchise ranges from $1.3 to $4 million.