Long-awaited chicken joint eyes debut next month


The wait is almost over.

After more than two years, Tom Barnett is opening Slim Chickens in Maricopa. In the process, he has passed the torch to the next generation of his longtime partner, Shane Jacobs, and his son, Lucas Barnett. Lucas will be operating the Slim Chickens locations in Arizona.

The chicken-centric restaurant will be located at The Wells shopping center between McDonald’s and Big 5 Sporting Goods, near Walmart.

The company is targeting a late October opening.

Slim Chickens will feature chicken tenders, chicken wings, chicken sandwiches, 17 house dipping sauces and sides including fried okra and pickles. The restaurant will be open seven days a week from 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM.

Tom Barnett and Barnett Management Company also own Maricopa’s Burger King location — one of the 57 such restaurants they operate throughout Arizona. Barnett Management Company will be the exclusive operator of Slim Chickens restaurants in the state, slated to build 32 locations in the next 10 years.

Lucas Barnett describes Slim Chickens as a competitor to Chick-Fil-A. He said it took nearly a year to find the ideal location for the first Arizona location when he decided he wanted Maricopa to be home to his flagship Slim Chickens location in Arizona.

Maricopa, Barnett said, is the ideal market for the Slim Chickens concept and the first Arizona location.

“The Slim Chickens in Maricopa is going to be the biggest restaurant we ever opened,” Barnett said last year when announcing the Maricopa location. “If we open four or five of these in the next year, Maricopa is going to do the most sales by a mile.”

The restaurant has a huge potential market sitting right in its backyard. The City of Maricopa has approved more than 1,300 apartments in the area near Porter Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway in the past two years, providing ideal market conditions for a fast-casual restaurant.

Barnett said Slim Chickens will fill a niche for a chicken-focused restaurant that has been lacking in Maricopa.

Maricopa’s Slim Chickens restaurant will be the first of up to 32 locations around Arizona, which will operate under the AZ Slims Restaurants umbrella. AZ Slims broke ground on the location 41470 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway in May.

Barnett Management will invest more than $120 million to bring up to 32 locations of the chicken concept to life in the Valley. A company executive said the restaurants offer not just jobs, but opportunities, to those who join the AZ Slims team early.

“Joining AZ Slims at this stage in our growth is an incredible opportunity to get in on the ground floor for those seeking a rewarding career with a lot of upward mobility,” Lucas Barnett said. “Barnett Management Company is known for cultivating positive relationships with its staff, investing in our employees, and retaining managers for decades,” Lucas Barnett continued. “We are excited to build a fun, rewarding and hard-working culture in our AZ Slims restaurants throughout Arizona.”

AZ Slims is in the process of hiring up to 250 people in the next year, including general managers, assistant general managers, district managers and team members. Eventually, each location will have about 75 employees for a total of about 2,400 AZ Slims employees statewide in ten years.

There are eight other Valley locations in the queue behind the Maricopa Slims. A location at 35th Avenue and Happy Valley Road in Glendale is slated to open in late 2023 or early 2024, with 6 other locations set to open in 2024.

This published content was first published in the September edition of InMaricopa Magazine.