A billion-dollar fast food chain no one ever talks about is taking over America

Zaxby's Finds Recipe for Success in Fast-Casual Market

Zaxby's, a billion-dollar chicken chain, is taking over America.

Zaxby's was recently ranked number 25 on QSR magazine's annual list of top 50 chains in the quick service and fast casual industries.

The chicken chain raked in almost $1.3 billion in sales last year.

There are more than 660 locations in 16 states, located primarily in the South.

While many other chains feel the need to reinvent menus and continuously release new items to stay fresh, Zaxby's does the opposite.

Zach McLeroy, Zaxby's CEO, opts to, "not make plans for any drastic moves, instead choosing to focus on the food chain's expertise: chicken," according to Metro Atlanta CEO.

The chain's chicken finger plate is one of the most popular menu items.

Other popular items include classic foods like wings and the company's signature, seasoned crinkle-cut fries.

What's also unique about the chain is its successful track record with salads.

Many fast food restaurants struggle with incorporating salads and healthier dishes into the menu, but Zaxby's says its salads are popular.

The business plan Zaxby's currently operates has helped the company achieve incredible success in recent years. In 2013, it became abillion dollar chain.

This is an impressive feat for a chain that is only influential in the South. Some have even tweeted their disbelief in others not knowing about Zaxby's.

The chain moved onto many peoples radars earlier this year during the NCAA tournament, because of its commercials.

In 2013, the chain started opening locations in Utah, which was its first move for expansion outside of the Southeast.

Zaxby's plans to open 18 new locations across Utah by 2018.

"The company is also open to continued expansion in other western states, including Nevada and Arizona," according to Nation's Restaurant News. "Other target markets for Zaxby's expansion include Indianapolis, Ind.; Dayton, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Texas and Louisiana."

The company's westward expansion comes at a time when it is reportedly rolling out a new design in many of its stores.

Zaxby's is remodeling and adapting an aesthetic similar to a farmhouse in many of its stores.

The idea behind the redesign is to incorporate graphic elements of Zaxby's history that molded the company, while still updating the exterior of the restaurants to draw in customers.

"The primary motivator behind the new design concept is to improve operational excellence and guest experience. The goal is to go back to some of the earlier stores from 15 years ago and start retrofitting them with the new design," said McLeroy to Restaurant Development + Design.

With the new design, the company is also embracing the open kitchen concept to foster trust with its customers. Zaxby's is also instating operational changes to increase efficiency in its stores, according to Restaurant Development + Design.

Another popular chicken chain that also originated in the South, Chick-fil-A, plans to open new restaurants in areas in the Northern United States in the coming months.

It will be interesting to see if Zaxby's follows suit and brings its redesigned stores to different areas of the United States.

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Healthy fast food alternatives that stack up to Zaxby's salads:

The Healthiest Fast Food Options
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