Layne’s Chicken Fingers Awards 91 Restaurants, Celebrates Groundbreaking 6-Figure Opening in Q1

Layne's Chicken Fingers Awards 91 Restaurants, Celebrates Groundbreaking 6-Figure Opening in Q1

The Soon to be Famous™ chicken franchise is kicking off its 30th year with a bang, nearly doubling its awarded restaurant count and continuing internal development to support the growing system.

Layne's Chicken Fingers Awards 91 Restaurants, Celebrates Groundbreaking 6-Figure Opening in Q1College Station, TX  (RestaurantNews.comLayne’s Chicken Fingers, the Soon to be Famous™ chicken finger franchise, is quickly growing, awarding 91 new restaurants through eight franchise agreements in the first quarter of 2024 alone. The brand also opened two new restaurants in Q1, one of which achieved six-figure sales volumes in the first week alone.

“The number of franchise units that we sold in Q1 is amazing, but that’s made even more amazing by the number of people we have turned away and how picky we’re being,” said Layne’s CEO Garrett Reed. “Yes, we’ve signed deals for a ton of units. But the bigger part of the story is that we’ve turned away almost an equal number of opportunities that just weren’t a good fit for our system. We can still be friends, but if we don’t feel you’re a fit for the system, we have to protect our brand.”

The Layne’s leadership team has long prided itself on the quality of candidates it attracts and accepts. Chief Operating Officer Samir Wattar has repeatedly emphasized the importance of protecting the brand and protecting the franchisees, and the impacts of this have become clear. As Layne’s grows, prospective owners are realizing the value that exists in the system and looking to get in on the growth before prime territories are claimed.

“The word is getting out, and more people are starting to see who we are, where we’re growing and that we’re true to our word,” Wattar said. “You don’t have to be an expert in the restaurant industry to know that having cars wrapped around the building and having a six-figure opening week are good signs. People are seeing the financial success of the brand, and the industry is watching us.”

These successes have caught the eyes of major Moe’s and Whataburger franchisees, a former Jersey Mike’s franchisee and retired MLB player, and a former employee of the original Layne’s restaurant, all of whom have all signed to open new Layne’s locations in Georgia, East Texas and Wyoming, respectively.

“We’re starting to see that ‘I better get in early’ mindset,” said Reed. “People are seeing what’s happening with our growth, and they want to make sure they haven’t missed the chance to join us and secure their markets.”

While Layne’s is focused on expanding beyond the state of Texas, the brand is still working to sell out its home state as well, targeting new franchise agreements in the  Valley and West Texas. Layne’s also expects 10 more openings this year, including locations in Nashville, Tennessee; Janesville, Wisconsin; and Roswell, Georgia — the brand’s first locations in each state.

To support its rapid growth, Layne’s has further developed its corporate team. By making a capital commitment to the infrastructure in the early days of the brand’s growth, the management team has set the brand up to succeed by ensuring there are always enough experts available at the corporate level to support the growing system.

“We have more corporate employees than we have stores; there are not a lot of brands our size that can say that,” Reed explained. “We are designed right now to support 40 units. We’ve spent the last two years building that team, so unlike other young franchise groups, we don’t have to catch up to the growth of our franchisees — we’re ahead of pace.”

Looking toward the rest of the year and beyond, Reed and Wattar said they’re sticking to what works, protecting the brand and honoring their commitment to the franchisees who have joined the system to this point. Given recent responses from guests and prospective owners alike, it’s clear Layne’s is on track to continue with its exponential growth, bringing an attractive investment opportunity and delicious chicken fingers to more markets across the country.

“We’re always looking for validation that what we’re doing is the correct thing,” Wattar said. “When we have restaurants in small towns surpassing $100,000 in sales during their opening week, one of the largest Whataburger franchisees signing a deal with Layne’s, and franchisees coming to us and pitching themselves, we know we’re doing the right thing. I truly believe in ‘Find what you’re good at and be great at it,’ and that’s what we’re doing. We’re staying true to the brand, and we’re not deviating from what we know works.”

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Lauren Turner