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The first Slim Chickens restaurant in the Mid-South will soon open on Getwell Road in Southaven. Josh Rowden is the operator of the Arkansas-based franchise location.

Chick-Fil-A's new Getwell Road location will have some competition in the coming weeks when Arkansas-based restaurant chain Slim Chickens opens down the street at 6505 Getwell Road as a part of Southaven's new Silo Square development. 

Operator Josh Rowden describes Slim Chickens as a "fast casual, high quality chicken restaurant that is focused on great service and high quality food" and says that the company's aim is to have a "positive impact" on the lives of everyone it comes into contact with.

Slim Chickens was founded in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 2003, but the Southaven location will be the first opened by Rowden's DHR Franchise group, which has been implementing other restaurant concepts for over 40 years. At least five Slim locations in the DeSoto and Shelby County area are set to open within the next five years.

"We are a family friendly restaurant that should appeal to all, but especially those interested in quality and service," Rowden said. "We are extremely excited to get our first Slim Chickens open and serve the great people of DeSoto County."

Slim Chickens' franchise motto is "Life-Changing Chicken," and the DHR mission statement is "to honor God in all we do, especially in customer service, community involvement and in offering opportunities for growth to our people."

The restaurant will offer fresh breaded or grilled chicken tenders, chicken and waffles, fresh salads, wraps, sandwiches, side dishes and jar desserts, as well as 17 homemade sauces. Shortly after opening, kids will be able to eat free every Sunday with the purchase of an adult meal. The restaurant is also set to offer teacher appreciation days as well as multiple employment opportunities.

"We want to be different than the average restaurant," Rowden said. "We have a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of our team and our customers. We believe we do this through serving others and caring. In an industry that seems to focus more on money than on people, we want to be different."

Rowden, the son of a business owner himself, originally went to college to become a coach, but his plans changed soon after observing his father.

"I quickly discovered that owning a business is the ultimate coaching position," Rowden said. "I get to recruit a winning team, and we get to prepare each day to execute at the highest levels. And most importantly, we all get to do something that makes a difference."

Although new to the area, Rowden said that he loves the South and the people here and has already experienced the love of the community. Making a difference in others' lives, being a servant leader, creating career opportunities for people and watching them grow in their business, and loving God and people are what motivate Rowden, and he believes that high quality products and service are what set Slim Chickens apart from other restaurants.

"Our group has won awards for how we treat our people and for how our people serve our customers," Rowden said. "But the nicest thing a customer has ever said is that they 'love the way we treat them.'"

Rowden encourages those considering starting a business to pray about it and determine if it is personally driven or if it is an idea the Lord has a hand on, to think about whether you would be able to attract great people who could be developed to be the next future leaders and to consider the location. Authenticity, viewing winning as a byproduct rather than as the focus and taking care of people are also at the forefront of Rowden's mind.

Brent Walker is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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