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Slim Chickens plans Lakewood Ranch opening

The fast-casual restaurant’s menu centers on a range of fried chicken items.

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The growing fast-food market in the Lakewood Ranch area is about to pick up another entry.

Slim Chickens, which currently has five locations in Florida as well as restaurants in 29 other states, is going through permitting in Manatee County to build in the Publix shopping center at the corner of Lorraine Road and State Road 70. Its address will be 14529 S.R. 70 E. No opening date has been set.

The restaurant’s menu features mainly chicken items including chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches and wraps, and chicken and waffles, but also will include southern-inspired sides including fried pickles, mushrooms and okra.

Slim Chickens Vice President of Franchise Development Jackie Lobdell said the restaurant serves its items cooked-to-order.

“We’re not pulling a hamburger off a heat lamp,” she said.

The chicken is marinated in buttermilk, and each piece is breaded individually by hand before being served to customers, with a breading recipe that includes a blend of spices.

Chicken and waffles is a popular menu item at Slim Chickens. (Courtesy photo)
Chicken and waffles is a popular menu item at Slim Chickens. (Courtesy photo)

Lobdell said the application of the breading is lighter than that of some other brands.

“One brand might heavily bread its chicken tenders, where the breading is more than the chicken,” she said, explaining that Slim Chickens aims to maintain a focus on the chicken itself.

She said the most popular item is Slim’s Plate, which consists of four chicken tenders, seasoned french fries and Texas toast.

The approximately 4,066-square-foot Lakewood Ranch location is planned to feature a double drive-thru.

Lobdell said the brand’s growth is not limited to the Lakewood Ranch area.

“We will be going all over Florida, in due time,” she said.

She said other sites in Florida under construction include Orlando, Miami and Jacksonville. She also said there are currently plans to grow in the U.K., Germany, France, the Middle East and Asia.

Lobdell said the restaurant's founders, Tom Gordon and Greg Smart, are natives of Little Rock, Arkansas.

According to a video released by the company, the two founders met as friends in high school, where they spent “a lot of time out in the woods duck hunting and fishing.

”They said they created the menu, the same one that exists today, by performing taste tests with other friends at home," Lobdell said.

Customers can top off a meal with the jar desserts, which are layered treats including chocolate brownie pudding jar dessert, which is composed of chocolate pudding, Heath bar, brownie and whipped cream. 

Seasonal offerings include the strawberry cheesecake and pecan pie jars.


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