ATHENS — It’s the most delicious contagion you will ever catch and now it has spread to Athens.
You couldn’t miss the “slimthusiasm” Monday for the official grand opening of Slim Chickens at the intersection of U.S. 72 and Lindsay Lane.
Legends Development and Slim Chickens’ co-owners Alan Renfroe and Dana Price made a $3.5 million investment in the Athens community. The restaurant also hired 83 people for the new location.
Two things were clear on opening day: Athens’ residents are anxious about Slim Chickens opening, and Alan Renfroe and Dana Price are rock stars for bringing Slim Chickens to Athens.
Huntsville developer T.J. Lee of Leeland Ventures, in partnership with Pammie Jimmar, president of the Athens-Limestone County Chamber of Commerce, hosted the ceremony with Renfroe, Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks, Athens City Council President Harold Wales and Councilmen James Lucas and Chris Siebert.
Jimmar with her inherent cheerfulness rallied the audience with a personal anecdote.
“I love Madison, don’t get me wrong, but now I no longer have to haul it down Highway 72 to get some Slim Chickens!” she said to a chorus of “amens!” “I am happy you are here. Everyone is happy that you are here,” she gave a nod to Renfroe.
Marks said he was glad he no longer had to spend money in “that county” when his grandson wanted Slim Chickens, now they can keep it in Limestone County.
Guests applauded and laughed.
Wales said Marks, his staff and the City Council are on the offensive when it comes to bringing in viable new businesses to Athens.
“We all grew up here and we didn’t have stuff like this, so naturally we like to see things like this come to our community,” said Wales. “Slim Chickens is going to be a hit here. I look forward to seeing the parking lot full every day.”
Renfroe and Price first introduced the Slim Chickens concept to North Alabama in 2021 when they entered into a multi-unit agreement with Leeland Ventures to develop restaurants at Clift Farm and Town Madison.
Athens is Legends Development’s fourth Slim Chickens in North Alabama.
“I can’t tell you how supportive these guys have been getting this project off the ground,” said Lee while nodding to Marks and the city council members. “I know if you are like other municipalities, and the way it is going right now, I know Athens is drinking through a firehose right now, so I appreciate your help in keeping us on track.
“As with any project, you have obstacles along the way. It’s a great gift to pick up the phone and be able to call a councilman or the mayor’s office to get things done. They are pro-business, and we are excited to be a part of it.”
With their history of successful developments, Legends Development and Leeland Ventures said they “are just getting started” with a wide array of other projects slated for 2024.
“When my partner Dana Price and I initially opened the three Slim Chickens in Madison County because that’s how Slim’s corporate wanted to lay it out, we always knew once we left the Huntsville market, Athens was the city we were destined to go to first…,” Renfroe said while interrupted by cheers. “…and our territory goes all the way to Mobile Bay, so we could have gone anywhere in the state.
“Athens is where we wanted to be next so let’s go eat some chicken.”