Distinctive Flavors: Chick N Max carves out a niche 
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Distinctive Flavors: Chick N Max carves out a niche 

Distinctive Flavors: Chick N Max carves out a niche 

I’ve spent more than three decades in the restaurant industry. I got my start as a teenager scraping cheese off pans in a Pizza Hut kitchen. I later spent more than 20 years in real estate and development for such brands as Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Smashburger, and Ted’s Montana Grill. In fact, I was with Smashburger when the footprint transformed from a handful to hundreds, and I was at the floor of Ted’s Montana Grill when Ted Turner and George McKerrow pioneered the better-burger segment. My responsibilities took me across the country. And in those travels, I saw things done well, and I saw the opposite.

But soon it came time to channel that knowledge and start my own concept that would accommodate the ever-growing movement towards red meat alternatives.

I knew the concept had to feature a real point of differentiation that would carve out a niche in an increasingly saturated segment. After experimenting with different smoke flavors, such as hickory and mesquite, I realized that a franchise serving Almond Smoked Chicken as a healthy alternative would be a big part of the concept. With that knowledge, I conceptualized Chick N Max in 2017 and assembled a team of culinary professionals to perfect the menu. Our first restaurant opened in January 2018.

A new approach

Chick N Max isn’t just serving up ordinary “original” or “spicy” chicken sandwiches. Our menu features the latest food trends in America, and we’re taking it to new heights with our unique flavor combinations and sauces. We’re proud to say we’re creating the “better chicken sandwich” segment and offering a global flavor profile. Our menu impresses and delights even the most discerning diners.

Our chef-crafted sandwiches, made with almond-wood smoked pulled chicken or golden fried tenders, are where we stretch our culinary muscles. Examples of proprietary sandwiches include the Maple Bacon Sandwich, featuring pulled smoked chicken, chopped bacon, a drizzle of maple syrup, cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise on a potato bun, and the Sweet & Spicy Sandwich, which includes lightly breaded, crisp chicken tenders, fried jalapeño pepper strips, cucumber, tomato, and sweet and spicy sauce on a brioche bun.

Our almond-wood smoked chicken, however, can also meet the needs of a more health-conscious diner when served as smoked leg quarters, breast quarters, half-birds, or smoked wings.

This is unique to the entire industry. No one uses almond wood, which we view as an ingredient adding a unique flavor profile. It produces a softer, sweeter flavor than other harsher woods historically used in restaurants, such as hickory, mesquite, and white oak. The gentleness of the almond-wood smoke allows the chicken’s authentic and rich flavors to come through. 

Our guests can complete their meal with a range of 10 homestyle sides, including fries, onion rings, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, smoked white beans, and 11 sauces that are made daily to ensure the highest quality and taste.

Finally, our menu also includes wonderfully chef-crafted salads that can be customized with our smoked or fried chicken.

Easy-to-execute menu

As a fast-casual brand, we’ve designed our menu to be extremely balanced. We’ve managed to match an easy-to-execute menu with guest-delighting food. Our fried tenders please guests of all ages, and our almond-wood smoked chicken is healthy and flavorful. Our menu performs better than the industry average in the fast-casual segment because of our strong dinner and catering offerings.

Spreading our wings

Our growth has accelerated since we launched our franchise opportunity in 2021. We’re incredibly proud of how far we’ve come and excited about where we’re going. With six restaurants currently open and operating across Kansas, Texas, and South Dakota, Chick N Max promises to continue to inspire additional locations across the country.

This year, we’re gearing up to further expand with existing and new franchisees. Thanks to an active franchise pipeline that stands at more than 50 restaurants, we expect to open as many as three to five new restaurants this year and at least that many each year thereafter.

In terms of size, Chick N Max restaurants range from 1,950 to about 2,250 square feet, with 40 to 60 seats and a drive-thru. Each restaurant has between 25 and 35 employees.

The numbers

Though we are an emerging brand, our leadership team comprises established restaurateurs who’ve crafted our franchise concept with growth in mind. Our build-out process is designed to be accessible for entrepreneurs to join the Chick N Max family. Our menu is delicious and easy to execute, allowing our franchisees to focus on providing great customer service and growing their business.

Coming out of Covid-19 in 2021, our sales grew 30% over 2020, generating two-year sales comps of more than 40%. Since then, we’ve consistently experienced double-digit sales and customer growth.

Including a franchise fee of $35,000, the total investment to open a Chick N Max restaurant ranges from $410,500 to $997,500.

Max Sheets is the founder and CEO of Chick N Max.

Published: May 6th, 2024

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