One could argue that longtime residents Bob and Penny Wiggins just completed Cartersville’s poultry triangle.
Last month the Wiggins opened Bartow’s first Chicken Salad Chick (CSC) restaurant at 200 North Dixie Ave. Fittingly enough, the site used to be a short-lived Chicken World restaurant, and before that, a Wendy’s establishment.
Just across Joe Frank Harris Parkway there are two other major poultry-themed restaurants — and with the emergence of the newfangled CSC location, it looks like that section of U.S. 41 has officially become Bartow’s golden corridor for on-the-go chicken cuisine.
The Wiggins know the Chicken Salad Chick brand well. They opened their first restaurant in Gainesville — which has long boasted of being “the poultry capital of the world,” naturally — in 2017.
Penny Wiggins recounted meeting Chicken Salad Chick founder Stacy Brown in Destin, Florida, about 10 years ago.
“We had asked her to take a picture of our group," she recalled the trip. "She was at the beach opening up a Chicken Salad Chick, so she invited us to come to the opening and told us all about the restaurant.”
When she returned home, she spoke with her husband about becoming franchisees. At the time, Bob Wiggins was taking a respite from the restaurateur trade. Yet it wasn’t long before the Wiggins bought into the Alabama-headquartered chain, which today, has more than 150 locations spanning as far north as Ohio and as far west as the suburbs of Oklahoma City and Dallas.
“We had both been watching what was happening with Chicken Salad Chick and he realized that I had a really good idea all those years ago,” she said.
The newly-opened Cartersville location is the 29th CSC restaurant to open in Georgia.
Bob Wiggins gives his spouse credit — she knew the concept was a winner from the outset.
“I trust her judgement when it comes to food,” he said. “I said to her, "It’s a young brand, they’re just getting started. I’ve seen brands come and I’ve seen them go, so we’ll just wait and watch and see what happens" … it became clear after eating at several and watching the brand grow that it was worth us investigating further.”
As evident by the massive amount of customer traffic coiling around the drive-thru on March 18’s opening day, the community the Wiggins have called home for years appears to be more than keen on the emerging CSC concept.
“It was exciting, obviously, to see the response,” Bob Wiggins said. “One thing we love about Cartersville is that Cartersville really responds to local businesses … it may be a franchise, but we are local people that live here, and our family’s here.”
Names: Bob and Penny Wiggins
Ages: 67 and 63
Current City of Residence: Cartersville
Hometowns: Valdosta and Doraville
Occupations: Co-owners, Chicken Salad Chick
The Daily Tribune News (DTN): To begin, can you tell us about some of your previous business experiences and ventures?
Bob Wiggins (BW): I started my restaurant career with Chick-fil-A and I was an owner-operator down in South Georgia, in Valdosta, in a mall unit. Which a lot of people don’t realize, that’s where Chick-fil-A started was in malls. Then I left them and actually moved to Atlanta and then I was out of the business for a little bit. And then I bought a CiCi’s Pizza franchise and moved to Dalton to open my first one up there. Then before kind of all of that was over, at that time I had seven restaurants that I either purchased or opened. I also opened a CiCi’s Pizza here in Cartersville.
DTN: Can you describe what it’s like being both spouses and business partners?
BW: It’s doing great. Penny handles certain areas of the business and I handle certain areas. For me, I handle the operations and she mostly focuses her time on the social media, marketing and payroll.
Penny Wiggins (PW): As long as we stay in our lanes, we do pretty well.
DTN: Is there anything that makes the Cartersville market different from some of the others you may have worked in?
BW: This community is different. We say that all the time. We love Cartersville for what it is. It’s still a small community — it’s growing, but it still has that small community feel. I guess the best description I can give you is my dad, before he passed away, when he would come up here, and my parents were still in Valdosta, he would always say “Cartersville is like Valdosta used to be.” And that said a lot.
PW: And this community really tries to support their restaurants, which is really special.
DTN: Do you have plans to open any other franchises, or bring any other concepts to Bartow?
BW: No plans to bring any other concepts to Bartow County and Cartersville. But if we did anything else, it would be a Chicken Salad Chick. This brand is special, and it’s been good to us. It’s such a good fit for who we are, and it enables us to give back, as well. So we would not entertain anything other than this, and we’re doing well here, so we would not be looking to do anything else.
DTN: What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
BW: It just depends on the flavor of chicken salad that you like. They’re all good, we make everything from scratch here everyday. So it’s just what you like. For me, personally, I like the "Jalapeño Holly" — I like the spicy side.
PW: And for me, mine is a limited-time flavor that we will be starting to have in summer, and it’s called “Dill-icious Diva.” But we don’t have that on the menu all the time — it’s just a summertime flavor, and it’s so good.
DTN: And to wrap up, is there anything you’d like to say to the Bartow community?
BW: Just thank you for supporting us at this time. And in the future.
PW: We will strive very hard to give the experience of Chicken Salad Chick, what it really is. Right now we’re not able to provide that dining room experience, and that’s something we miss. We miss getting to talk to all the guests who visit, so we’re looking forward to that.