Arkansas restaurant chain Slim Chickens opened its first New Jersey location on Jan. 18 in Flemington, with 14 more planned under the same leadership.
It’s a better-late-than-never start to the restaurant, which franchisees and brothers Paul and Jay Patel originally planned to open in 2019 but experienced significant delays, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had some construction delays. It’s been very … with COVID, the supply chain and being able to get materials, there have been delays,” explained Chief Operating Officer Sam Rothschild. “These guys are really excited, they’re really anxious to get the restaurant open. The brand has done very well around the county and we’re just very excited to bring the concept to New Jersey.”
Slim Chickens operates outlets in 19 states, in locales of varying sizes from towns with 20,000 people to counties with millions.
“I’ve been in the restaurant business for a long time and New Jersey has always been a great place for restaurants. It’s densely populated, wonderful good people live there, and they enjoy going out and having a nice lifestyle,” Rothschild said.
Slim Chickens in Flemington creates 70 jobs. Quick-service restaurants like Slim Chickens are often the first stop on a person’s employment journey, he noted, and first-time employees nationwide learn valuable skills from their employers.
“What’s nice for me, some of the employees, when we open the restaurant, it’s their first job. We employ some high school kids and it’s always nice to see them smiling, getting a paycheck, and starting down the path of gainful employment,” Rothschild said. “I enjoy [when] I come back to the restaurants and see some of these people six months or a year later or longer.”
Slim Chickens offers career development programs, and Rothschild recounted instances of first-time employees climbing the ladder to managerial positions, including multi-unit supervisors.
“Some of these folks are running $8-10 million books of business for us as multi-unit supervisors. It’s great to see, and we provide opportunities for that to happen,” Rothschild said.
The next location slated to open is in Cedar Knolls, though he did not provide a timeline. Slim Chickens’ initial outlet is open 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily at 39 Route 31 in Flemington.