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Layne’s Chicken Fingers Celebrates 30th Anniversary, ‘Making Memories Since 1994'

The Soon to be Famous™ chicken franchise is celebrating 30 years with growth so rapid it’s “hard to project” what the next 30 will bring.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 6:06AM 04/16/24

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Layne’s Chicken Fingers, the Texas “born and breaded” Soon to be Famous™ chicken finger franchise celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. In the past three decades, the brand has built a loyal following in College Station, Texas, while also launching franchise opportunities and expanding to new states. Even after all of this, though, the heart of Layne’s stays the same.

“This is a pretty big milestone,” said Layne’s CEO Garrett Reed. “To be around for that long, selling the same thing and doing what we do, is a big deal. We’re a new franchise company, but we’re a brand that’s filled with history.”

Layne’s Chicken Fingers launched in College Station in 1994 with a single mom-and-pop chicken finger restaurant. The menu consisted of chicken fingers, fries and sauces, including the iconic Layne’s sauce, and the restaurant was beloved for its hometown feel and great service. Layne’s grew its presence in College Station over the next 25 years. In 2017, the brand was acquired by the current team. 

“The biggest change in the past 30 years has been institutionalizing the brand. But the great thing is that, over those 30 years, the core of who we are has never changed. The culture and kindness has stayed the same,” said Reed. “All of that is now a part of a sophisticated franchise business. We have the supply chain, policies and procedures, standards and execution that the big guys have.”

This development has been a major pillar of Layne’s rapid growth in recent years, but it has not detracted from the Layne’s experience that people know. As Layne’s has grown, it has relied on guidance from its mascot.

Layne’s mascot, the Astro Chicken, represents the duality of the company. The chicken itself represents a laid-back approach, like how a chicken casually pecks around a farm, Reed explained. But this is accompanied by a space helmet, representing a serious venture that requires dedication and careful calculations. The leadership team has looked to the faithful Astro Chicken throughout the brand’s explosive growth to ensure that the expectations that lie at the heart of the brand are not forgotten.

“Everything we’re doing is staying true to our brand and mascot,” said Chief Operating Officer Samir Wattar. “We haven’t lost the welcoming, laid-back culture that our guests expect, but we have listened to guests and continued to innovate. We’ve invested in more ‘space travel’ in the last four years as we’ve become more in tune with the business aspect of the company, but the chicken is still there.”

What was previously just a food-service brand has evolved into a people brand. The Layne’s corporate team services franchisees to ensure they feel supported and prepared to best support their guests.

Now, as it celebrates its 30th anniversary, Layne’s has 13 operating restaurants and another 200 units sold. This year, the system plans to open another 12-plus locations, including its first Wisconsin restaurant on its official birthday — April 20. In addition to 30th-anniversary-themed paper products that will be in the restaurants all year, the team has some surprises planned for the Wisconsin grand opening, something Reed describes as “a huge birthday party.”

“At the rate we’re growing, it’s becoming hard to project where we’ll be in 30 years,” said Reed. “I’ll say this, though: If you rewind the clock to five or six years ago, we had three restaurants, no franchisees, and great food. Now, we have 13 restaurants, 200 sold, at least 12 more slated to open this year and another 20 that will open next year. If you project that trend on to the next 30 years … Wow.”

“One of our taglines for this year’s celebrations is ‘Making memories since 1994.’ Layne’s is known and loved by guests across the country, and that’s because of the great memories people associate with the brand,” explained Wattar. “Over the next 30 years, we plan to keep building those memories to the point that we don’t even need a Layne’s sign. The Astro Chicken will be on par with the bell of Taco Bell or the chili of Chili’s. That’s where we’re headed.”


Founded in 1994 in College Station, the original location became a Texas A&M legend known for its small-town charm, friendly service, iconic chicken fingers and secret sauce. While opening corporate locations across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the leadership team focused on fine tuning its operations and starting to franchise.  

Franchise opportunities range from $545,000 to $1,190,000 with different buildout options available. Learn more about franchising here.

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