By Callie Sharkey
In the land of endless summer, finding a fresh spot to enjoy light but filling food is a prize worth seeking. Now that Chicken Salad Chick has opened in Wellington, the chain’s first location in Palm Beach County, the search is over. This restaurant is more than just traditional chicken salad — it offers 12 different varieties throughout the year, plus seasonal versions of the classic dish.
How can there possibly be more than a dozen versions of chicken salad? Allie Royal has the answer.
“Most homemade recipes are just a version of our classic chicken salad, which is chicken, mayonnaise, finely minced celery and seasoning. Sometimes at home, you’ll add grapes or pecans, but we have something really different, like buffalo chicken salad,” she said. “You don’t normally make that, or a barbecue chicken salad, at home. People can be intimidated by that sometimes, but I tell them, ‘Just try it. I promise it will surprise you.’ More often than not, they fall in love with flavors that they weren’t coming in to order.”
All the versions of chicken salad found at Chicken Salad Chick have unique namesakes. Each flavor profile is inspired by a real-life “chick” too. Traditional styles are the Classic Carol and Olivia’s Old South — the latter embracing southern flavors, including sweet pickles and egg.
“The Kickin’ Kay Lynne is the one I normally get,” co-owner Bryan Royal said without hesitation.
He loves the spicy mix of buffalo sauce, ranch, bacon, shredded cheese, jalapeño and sriracha. Other spicy options include the Jalapeño Holly.
Allie is partial to the Fancy Nancy and Lauryn’s Lemon Basil. The Fancy Nancy is a sweet concoction with the crunch of apples and pecans paired with the sweetness of seedless grapes. Lauryn’s Lemon Basil is on the savory side with basil and lemon flavors.
But there is more to Chicken Salad Chick than, well, just chicken salad. Every day there are hot and fresh soups to choose from, including loaded potato and a rotation of other comforting flavors, such as tomato bisque and broccoli cheese. Not in the mood for chicken? You can also enjoy grape, pasta or egg salads, and mac n’ cheese.
Patrons aren’t likely to get bored anytime soon with the option to take their favorite flavors and have them served as a scoop with crackers, atop a salad or on a sandwich. Dressings range from their signature poppy seed to classics like ranch and Italian.
One great feature of the restaurant is the Quick Chick — a spot where guests can grab various-sized containers of any version of chicken salad, pimento cheese or one of the other salad options, to go.
“Even if it’s not out there [at the Quick Chick kiosk], we can make it for you fresh and fast. If your favorite flavor is sold out, don’t worry. Just let us know what you want, and we will make it just for you,” Allie said.
Founded in Auburn, Alabama, by Stacy and Kevin Brown in 2008, Chicken Salad Chick has grown to more than 200 restaurants in 17 states.
Bryan and Allie Royal met in college at Valdosta State University in Georgia. Allie was familiar with the brand and loved it, but Bryan wasn’t introduced to it until much later. Now the couple has settled back in Florida with their three children, not far from Bryan’s roots in Belle Glade.
Joining them in the business is brother Kevin Royal, who also operates a Chicken Salad Chick location in Gainesville.
“It’s a total family business,” Bryan said. “Siblings, parents, in-laws, cousins — you never know which Royal family member you’ll see when you come in.”
As a Palm Beach County native, Bryan now lives minutes away from the new franchise store and can’t deny the great location. “Our brand fits the Palm Beach market well. It’s close distance-wise from our main office, so it made sense to start here before we expand into north county or south county,” he said.
The Royals are also looking forward to adding a full catering service in the future.
Chicken Salad Chick is located at 12792 W. Forest Hill Blvd. in front of the original Wellington Mall. It offers dine-in, drive through and takeout orders both by phone and online. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, and to check out the lively menu, visit www.chickensaladchick.com or call (561) 623-3437.