Slim Chickens coming to Hub City

Restaurant developer David Bagwell has his sites set on Hattiesburg for a Mississippi Delta-inspired chicken fast-food restaurant that he expects to bring to Hub City in the next few years.

Bagwell, a 28-year-old Carrollton native, and his father, Billy Bagwell, are building the first Slim Chickens franchise in Mississippi near Jackson. He said the fast-food restaurant, which started in 2003 in Fayetteville, Ark., will start in Jackson and move to Oxford and Hattiesburg.

“We’re extremely excited,” said David Bagwell, who operated Sonic restaurants with his father. We did not need to do anything. We had built a pretty good business with our partners here already. We just looked around; we’ve always done that. We looked at barbecue before, we looked at sandwiches before and we looked at Newk’s back when it was getting popular a little bit. We just never have found anything that pushed us as hard as Slim Chickens has. When we tasted this, saw the operation and the guys behind the whole thing, it was just something we couldn’t turn down. We wanted to bring it over here so everybody could experience it.”

Ridgeland is the first franchise for Mississippi, Bagwell said.

“Right now, we are working on getting construction started on our first site,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of irons brewing on a few different things in Oxford right now and we’re going to wait and see how that’s going to go. As we can find property, we are building things; there is no specific order that we are going in. it just depends on when an opportune moment pops up and we can jump on it and get started.”

Bagwell said the restaurant name doesn’t refer to late character actor Slim Pickens or a healthier lifestyle menu. The “Slim” in Slim Chickens is one of the most popular names in blues music, like Slim Harpo, Guitar Slim, Lightnin’ Slim, Tarheel Slim, Driftin’ Slim and Memphis Slim. “‘Slim’ is really a nod to the blues heritage of the Delta, not the preparation of the product,” he said.

Some education may be necessary in new restaurants.

“I guess it’s just a new brand here and people haven’t gotten to know us really well yet,” Bagwell said. “In Arkansas at Fayetteville, those people knew exactly what it was, even though I don’t know Fayetteville has a blues bone in its body anywhere.”

While plenty of chicken restaurants line the streets, Bagwell said he read that chicken is “the new beef.”

“We are entering a world where chicken has become the hamburger,” he said. “You look at it from our side and it’s a lower cost item where you can still get good quality. That’s what we’re all about now. Food costs are not going down for anybody and we are trying to find a way that we can provide a good value while we make money. I mean, that’s what we’re here for.”

Do we really need another chicken restaurant?

“My honest opinion of it is chicken places seem to be like they are getting to be a dime a dozen,” Bagwell said, “but this place is good. I have had chicken from all of the major fast-food places, but Slim Chickens is the best I have ever had.”