With more than 40 locations across the Southeast and Midwest, Guthrie’s is reinventing their unique brand with a proven and turnkey franchise model for driven entrepreneurs
Auburn, AL (RestaurantNews.com) Fifty-Five years ago, Hal Guthrie opened a family style drive-in restaurant in Haleyville, Ala. and by 1982, Guthrie had opened a second location in Auburn, Ala. But with this new location came some bold and daring decision making – to build a restaurant menu around a single item. From this unassuming and humble beginning, a chicken fingers revolution grew.
Today, more than five decades later, the Guthrie’s brand, which pioneered the chicken finger-only restaurant, still draws in crowds across the country for its hand-breaded chicken fingers rooted in a tradition of fresh, hot, and fast, with a generous dash of southern hospitality. With history on its side and more than 40 restaurants spread across the Southeast and Midwest, operational efficiency and unit profitability are driving Guthrie’s ongoing success as the brand sharpens its focus on franchise expansion and steady growth.
“There is something simple, something iconic about Guthrie’s golden fried chicken fingers that everyone can relate to – it’s very strong and powerful,” said Joe Kelly Guthrie, CEO of Guthrie’s Franchising, Inc. “To know that we were the original chicken finger-only concept that helped forge a completely new restaurant segment is something we’re extremely proud of. While our menu hasn’t changed, our restaurants continue to evolve and that’s evidenced in our recent growth.”
Propelling its development is Guthrie’s new smaller real estate footprint that is being implemented in new and emerging markets. This innovative adaptation is designed to maximize profitability without sacrificing taste, speed and freshness, which customers have enjoyed for generations.
“Our food is simple. Our process is simple,” said Guthrie. “We have been blessed to be able to partner with our franchisees and help put them on a path to small business ownership. The Guthrie’s franchise model is really about building community while determining your own financial future. Nothing we do is extremely complicated, however there are many small secrets and little things that go into our entrepreneurial equation to produce the best chicken fingers in the world. One thing is for certain, we are the original chicken finger specialists.”
With one foot anchored in tradition and the other firmly planted in the future, Guthrie’s has spread to six states and more than 40 locations. The brand’s efficient operational model along with its commitment to its franchisees, ongoing training and support, powerful marketing, simplified menu, and balanced labor costs, is credited for igniting its future and current growth.
“This year has been like no other in the restaurant business. The Covid-19 pandemic brought us to the realization that smart, quick, and efficient adjustments had to be made,” said Guthrie. “Our drive-thrus, along with our quick transition to curbside and delivery, allowed us to adapt virtually overnight. Much momentum was gained by hyper-focusing on our customers’ needs and safety. This set us up for a dynamic year, in terms of same store sales and unit growth.”
The new real estate model is enabling the brand to introduce its authentic, delicious, hand-breaded chicken fingers into new and existing territories such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Lexington, Nashville, Northern Ohio, and Huntsville, among others. Single unit restaurant ownership begins as low as $261,000 excluding real estate costs. Guthrie’s is targeting 10-15 new restaurant openings over the next year and has signed nearly a dozen new multi-unit development agreements over the past 12 months.
“We are realistic with how fast and with whom we want to grow because we have always been a quality over quantity brand,” said Guthrie. “It is our goal to make sure that franchisees are as much a fit for us as we are for them. Our above industry average profit margins, along with the simplicity of our operations are major calling cards for potential franchisees. Quite frankly, we invented the chicken finger restaurant segment and our chicken fingers have stood the test of time because they are absolutely delicious. We know we were first and we believe we are the best.”
About Guthrie’s Franchising
Guthrie’s was founded in Haleyville, Ala. in 1965 and, with the launch of its first chicken fingers only restaurant in Auburn, Ala. in 1982, the brand has grown to more than 40 locations across six states. Guthrie’s is dedicated to a simple, yet complex single menu-item format using only the highest quality and freshest ingredients. This allows franchisees to honor tradition while simultaneously disrupting typical menu diversification to create better opportunities for growth and profitability. Guthrie’s franchisees can expect their initial investment to range from $261,050 to $569,200 excluding real estate costs. For more information about franchising with Guthrie’s, visit guthrieschicken.com/franchising.