Slim Chickens Announces Addition of Industry Veteran Sam Rothschild as COO

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Rothschild sees clear potential for a billion dollars in revenue by 2025 and has a plan to get there.

With a long-time goal of national growth, and after building a solid reputation in its home state of Arkansas, the executive team at Slim Chickens decided to call upon the consulting services of industry veteran Sam Rothschild. What started as a day of illustrating a potential growth strategy on a white board turned into co-founders Tom Gordon and Greg Smart asking, “What will it take to get you to stay here and implement that plan?”

Sam Rothschild, who graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island with a degree in culinary arts has gained a wealth of knowledge over the past 16 years holding executive operations and franchise development positions with franchise industry leaders including Metromedia Restaurant Group, Romacorp, Inc., Applebee’s International and Hooters of America. Rothschild came on board in October 2013 and now spearheads Slim Chickens’ operations and franchise development as Chief Operating Officer.

“We are very excited to have Sam Rothschild join our growing executive team as COO,” said co-founder Tom Gordon. “He came at the recommendation of our Chief Financial Officer Seth Jensen, who worked with him closely at Applebee’s International, and we know he brings to the table tremendous experience and expertise that will lend to our growth strategy and franchise development in 2014 and beyond.”

Rothschild has a deep-rooted passion for food and business and with his experience in the industry, he knows a worthy concept when he sees one. The fast casual category is the space that will have the most growth in the franchising industry according to Rothschild. “People in QSR are moving up, people in casual dining are simplifying and we are playing directly in the space everyone is migrating to,” he said. “Not only does Slim Chickens have a superior product, but the brand is also incredibly franchisee-friendly; from the facility and construction, to the labor required and the positive revenue stream, entrepreneurs who are in food service will want to be a part of our franchise family.”

As a brand, Slim Chickens has always had a clearly defined target on the wall: 600 locations and a billion dollars in revenue by 2025. Going in to 2014 the executive team was thinking about what franchise development would need to look like in order to support that goal and as co-founder Tom Gordon says, “None of us have the world cornered on ideas. We called upon Sam and his expertise to see what kind of plan he would lay out, and we immediately knew we wanted him on our team.”

The executive team has clearly defined swim lanes as Rothschild describes it. Each member brings unique experience to the table and has a unique set of responsibilities. He says, “This is a family deal. We each clearly understand one another’s role, but we also back each other up and when it comes to big decisions, we involve everyone. We listen intently to our franchisees too, and react to what they tell us, which is essential to being a great franchisor.”

With 13 established restaurants and a 14th set to open in the second quarter of 2014, Rothschild’s plan includes further expansion in the state of Texas as well as growth up through the Mid-West to start. “Ideally we will identify 30 groups to develop in all 50 states, which means we have a lot of territory we’re willing to give up – but only for franchisees with the right qualifications,” he said. As the company grows, the team is aligned on anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the restaurants remaining corporately owned.

“I found Slim Chickens appealing for a number of reasons. Not only is the brand progressive, forward-thinking and positioned to grow at an incredible pace, but the people are smart, innovative, passionate and experienced,” said Rothschild. “I feel blessed to be a part of this brand that places such an emphasis on people, family and an unparalleled guest experience,” Rothschild added. He describes the atmosphere as a casual organization where people are serious about their work. “We spend a lot of time together professionally obviously, but we also spend a lot of time together personally and our families and human priorities are well taken care of which is really refreshing.”

At Slim Chickens, Rothschild will focus on creating and improving the efficiencies of the business from an operational perspective, with specific focus on franchise growth and development.

“My wife Kelly of 29 years is a very astute consumer and has approached every brand I’ve been involved with from a consumer perspective; she loves Slims because everyone who knows the brand [including herself] has phenomenal things to say about it. I am really looking at this as my ride off into the sunset – I love this brand and I would really like to retire one day with this team by my side.”

Founded in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Slim Chickens has seen great success in the last several years, expanding from an Arkansas brand into Texas and Oklahoma as an emerging national player and the leader of the “better chicken” segment of fast-casual dining. The brand has plans for 50 signed commitments by the end of 2014.

Slim Chickens opened in 2003 in Fayetteville, Ark., with a focus on culinary excellence in a fast casual setting. Guests can always expect fresh chicken tenders and wings cooked to order and served with handmade dipping sauces made from scratch. With 13 locations today and a fanatical following in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas the eternally cool brand is an emerging national franchise leading the “better chicken” segment and intends to grow nationwide to a footprint of 600 restaurants over the next decade. Southern hospitality is not just for the South; everyone, everywhere can appreciate honest food and socializing with friends and neighbors. To learn more about the brand, visit, and for franchise opportunities, visit


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Lauren Kaminski
No Limit Agency
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