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The Great Franchisee: David Giesen, Slim Chickens, Streetsboro, Ohio

The multi-brand franchisee further diversifies his portfolio with a new Slim Chickens franchise in Streetsboro, Ohio.

David Giesen was living in Ohio with his wife and working as a medical sales representative when he was approached by his father-in-law to consider opening a franchise as a way to make more income. Giesen’s father-in-law owned a piece of land that was garnering a lot of interest from restaurant chains. 

Giesen eventually left his career in medical sales as he began growing with the Arby’s franchise in Ohio. Fast forward 30 years, and Giesen is opening his first Slim Chickens, a fast-casual franchise specializing in chicken tenders and wings, in Streetsboro, Ohio with his son and son-in-law. Looking ahead, Giesen plans to make this location the largest Slim Chickens in the Midwest and hopes to continue opening more locations with the brand. 

1851 Franchise: What did you do before franchising?

David Giesen: I worked in the medical sales industry focusing on surgical implants before I got into franchising. I eventually moved to orthopedic sales, and while I was there I opened my first franchise with Arby’s in 1991. It was a family project involving my wife, myself and my father-in-law, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with my sons, Will and Thomas, and son-in-law, Tyler, to do it all over again. 

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising? 

Giesen: My father-in-law had a piece of land that a couple of franchise restaurant brands were inquiring about. He knew I had an entrepreneurial spirit and thought it would be a good way to earn some more income on top of my role as a medical sales rep. By 1996 we owned six Arby’s locations. As I continued growing with the brand, I eventually left my job as a medical sales rep to focus on my brands full-time. I currently own 16 restaurants under the Arby’s and Freddy’s franchise brands, and this Slim Chickens in Streetsboro will be my 17th. If it wasn’t for my father-in-law bringing this idea to me, I wouldn’t have gotten into the franchise industry. 

1851: Why did you choose franchising over starting your own business?

Giesen: I like that franchising is a proven system, and the brands I was working with were all recognizable names. I saw that as a huge value as opposed to opening a brand-new business on my own. It really gives franchisees a tremendous advantage right from the start to have folks recognize and know what to expect in terms of menu and atmosphere. It’s a lot of heavy lifting in the beginning when you’re opening your own business without having too much time to establish the brand.

1851: What other types of brands did you look at?

Giesen: The location lent itself to restaurant brands since my father-in-law was getting inquiries from them. Because of this, we only considered restaurant franchise brands.

1851: Why did you choose Slim Chickens? What excited you most about the brand’s potential?

Giesen: I own a few Freddy’s franchises and was introduced to Slim Chickens through friends at Freddy’s. They had recently acquired some Slim Chickens locations in Kansas and highly recommended that we look into the brand. We really like the chicken business and the diversification it offers us. There’s a huge demand for chicken products everywhere, and we saw Slim Chickens as the perfect concept to compete with more well-known brands like Chick-fil-A, since they really don’t have a big national competitor. I enjoyed the founders’ story about how they grew the brand and focused on spreading it all over the country. To make the final decision, I took my family — 10 of us — out to dinner at a Slim Chickens to get their feedback on the brand and see if we should move forward. Everyone was pleased with the offerings and service and really excited about the potential. Getting everyone on board was important to me since this will be a family affair. 

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?

Giesen: We’re aiming to become the largest franchise in the Midwest for the Slim Chickens brand. In the future, we’d like to open up more locations in the state of Ohio. 

1851: What value do you see your business providing to Streetsboro?

Giesen: Slim Chickens is going to be a unique brand in Streetsboro. There’s truly nothing like it in the area. Our chicken tenders and wings, along with our variety of sauces, are going to be very popular among customers. I think this new concept will be refreshing compared to what’s already available in the area.

1851: How has the opening process been during a global pandemic?

Giesen: It changes how we will operate in terms of dining in since we can’t pack the dining room like we normally would. However, Slim Chickens is set up for success with their easy-to-use app that allows customers to order delivery or pick-up in addition to our drive-thru concept. COVID-19 has changed the restaurant industry by taking the emphasis off of dine-in and favoring drive-thru and pickup or delivery options. Our app is also a great place for customers to receive some promotional messages for special offers that will keep them coming back for more. 

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?

Giesen: In general, franchising is an excellent way to start a new business. If you pick the right brand, it’s a tried-and-true system that has already worked out the kinks. Franchises provide you with training to help you succeed compared to opening up your own business all alone. I recommend anyone considering franchising to do a thorough investigation. Speak to franchisees and managers at the brands you’re considering. I’ve had friends that have invested in brands that didn’t have a lot of support from the corporate team, and they really struggled. My friends who did their homework have found a really successful career with their franchise brands.

1851: What do you do in your personal time?

Giesen: I have four children, four grandchildren and a fifth on the way, so I love spending time with all of them. We try to get together every week for dinner or an event. There’s always a birthday or anniversary to celebrate. I also enjoy playing racquetball and watching college and professional football — I just wish my favorite teams were doing better!



Slim Chickens opened in 2003 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with a focus on fresh, delicious food with a southern flair in a fast-casual setting. Guests can always expect fresh chicken tenders and wings cooked to order and served with housemade dipping sauces. With 110 locations opened and a fanatical following in 17 U.S. states, as well as international locations in Kuwait and London, the eternally cool brand is an emerging national and international franchise leading the “better chicken” segment with a goal to grow over 600 restaurants over the next decade. Southern hospitality is not just for the South; everyone, everywhere can appreciate honest food to socialize with friends and neighbors. To learn more about the brand, visit