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Multi-unit Deal Brings Slim Chickens to Montana


Slim Chickens has 100 restaurants open, with the brand's first in Montana slated for this fall.

Slim Chickens is continuing its northwestern expansion, with the brand’s first location in Montana set to open in September following the signing of a multi-unit franchise agreement.

Mike Sartwell, CEO of Preferred Restaurant Group and an existing Slim Chickens franchisee in North Dakota, will grow the fast-casual chicken chain in the state, starting in Helena. That first restaurant will replace another of Sartwell’s franchises, a Taco John’s. Preferred Restaurant Group operates 15 Taco John’s across North Dakota, Montana, Missouri and Illinois.

“Our group has developed Slim Chickens restaurants in North Dakota, and with the breathtaking success of our first opening last year, we knew we wanted to quickly expand our agreement with the brand,” said Sartwell, pictured below, who will open an additional three units in Montana as part of the deal. “Once we found the real estate, we moved swiftly. The first restaurant we developed was a conversion and was the most successful opening in the brand’s history, so we felt leveraging an existing site for our first Slim Chickens restaurant in Montana made sense, especially right now.”

In North Dakota, Sartwell’s group has an agreement for six Slim Chickens, with one open so far in Minot. The brand said it’s signed six multi-unit agreements for a total of 38 restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Mike is the ideal franchise partner for Slim Chickens. As an experienced operator, he understands that now is the time to expand with a brand like ours,” said Jackie Lobdell, executive director of franchise development at Slim Chickens. Lobdell noted year-over-year sales have grown since the pandemic began, and she said given that real estate is available in markets “coast to coast,” Slim Chickens represents an opportunity for operators looking to diversify their portfolios.

Slim Chickens has opened 100 locations across the United States, the United Kingdom and Kuwait. Last year, the Fayetteville, Arkansas-based brand attracted an equity investment from 10 Point Capital, the private equity firm whose portfolio also includes Tropical Smoothie Café and Phenix Salon Suites, in which the firm has a minority stake.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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