Chicken Salad Chick

Chicken Salad Chick is set to open next week at The Oxford Exchange, followed later this summer by Five Guys Burgers & Fries. (Photo by Trent Penny)

OXFORD — Chicken salad is coming to the Oxford Exchange, and burgers and fries are not far behind.

Chicken Salad Chick, a restaurant chain based in Auburn, will open at the Oxford Exchange June 19, according to Miles Coggins, director of design and construction for the company.

Monday and Tuesday the restaurant will have an  invitation-only soft opening to train around 70 employees, said John Gwin, construction project manager at Chicken Salad Chick.

“They hired the last few people today,” Gwin said Monday inside the restaurant as contractors worked with tile and drywall and managers trained new staff.

Gwin said market research and local investor Earlon McWhorter influenced the company’s decision to open in Oxford. McWhorter is a former Anniston-based developer who is currently Chicken Salad Chick’s vice president of market development.

“Research we did indicated it would do well in this area,” he said.

Starting at 10 a.m. June 19, up to 74 people can sit down and partake in a chicken salad sandwich at one time.

Gwin said, the Oxford location is one of 45 stores planned to open this year.

“We’re about halfway there,” Gwin said.

Chicken Salad Chick spans across the Southeast over to Texas and up to Ohio, Gwin said.

“We don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon,” Gwin said.

Chicken Salad Chick is one of three eventual tenants planned for the site.The project includes a 7,000-square-foot building with three tenants. Chicken Salad Chick will occupy one end of the building while Five Guys, a burger chain based in Lorton, Va., will occupy the other. The middle space is not yet leased.

Construction started Monday on Five Guys, according to Kevin Valencia, superintendent at Kasteel Enterprises, the restaurant’s contractor.

An attempt to reach public relations staff at Five Guys’ corporate office was unsuccessful, but Valencia said they have two months to complete construction.

On Oct. 9, Oxford City Council agreed to rebate up to $250,000 in sales tax to Wilson Development Group for the project. Oxford has used tax abatements to garner industrial projects, but this is the first for a retail project.

According to records from the Calhoun County Probate Office, the firm paid just less than $1 million for a 1.33-acre parcel of land, and Wilson borrowed just more than $2 million through Louisiana-based IberiaBank.