Whataburger Franchisee to Bring Layne’s Chicken Fingers to East Texas with a 25-Unit Deal

Whataburger Franchisee to Bring Layne's Chicken Fingers to East Texas with a 25-Unit Deal

Taylor Thomas, who has helped grow the franchise portfolio started by his father, connected right away with Layne’s focus on simplicity, quality and, most importantly, family.

Whataburger Franchisee to Bring Layne's Chicken Fingers to East Texas with a 25-Unit Deal Taylor Thomas, a seasoned entrepreneur with a deep-rooted history in the franchise industry, is making waves in East Texas as the newest franchisee of Layne’s Chicken Fingers, the Soon to be Famous chicken finger franchise. Having signed on to open 25 units across the region, Thomas is poised to reshape the local dining scene, emphasizing community involvement and a top-tier product that resonates with his Texas values.

Thomas’ introduction to the entrepreneurial world started with a Whataburger franchise that his father purchased back in 1989. “After I earned my master’s degree in 2016, I joined the family business with a vision to expand,” he said. “Once we maxed out our territory, it was time to find a new brand that aligned with our aspirations for growth and community connection.”

As someone intimately familiar with the restaurant industry, Thomas knew there was no shortage of options.

“When we first started looking, we were only looking at major brands,” Thomas said. “But we realized that the bigger the brand, the more likely that family-owned atmosphere goes away. There was a disconnect there. We want to feel like we can bounce off ideas and help the whole brand grow. The restaurant business isn’t easy — it never has been. So it’s important to have that collaboration between the franchisee and franchisor.”

The introduction to Layne’s Chicken Fingers came to Thomas serendipitously. “We were out eating one night and one of our buddies brought up Layne’s,” he said. “We didn’t even know the brand. We went to check it out, started talking with the team, visited some locations in Dallas and fell in love with the product. It was really everything we were after.”

Thomas was particularly drawn to Layne’s Chicken Fingers for its strong emphasis on maintaining a family-oriented culture, even as the brand grows. He was also impressed by the simplicity and quality of Layne’s operations and its well-defined culture, which isn’t always easy to find.

“A lot of brands, especially when they start growing very fast, will start complicating things and making the business model more complex,” Thomas said. “Layne’s didn’t do that.”

And when it comes to that culture, Thomas says meeting with the leadership team gave him all the insight he needed. “[Layne’s CEO] Garrett [Reed] brought his son along, which I thought was great — we hadn’t experienced a family-owned business in a long time,” he said. “That was a big positive for us.”

Overall, Thomas’s decision to partner with Layne’s was driven by three main criteria: simplicity, quality and a focus on family. “Layne’s hits all these marks, and their strong Texas roots only made the decision easier,” he said. “We are Texas people at heart.”

With plans to open the first location in Tyler by the end of the year, Thomas is committed to a long-term vision of expansion — he’s signed on to open 25 stores over the next decade.

“It’s not just about growing a business, but also enriching the communities we enter,” Thomas said. “Introducing this concept to my hometown is a fantastic feeling. I can’t tell you how many phone calls I’ve already received from people who heard about this plan and are so excited we are bringing Layne’s to this area.”

Layne’s Chicken Fingers is making significant strides as the Soon to be Famous chicken franchise. The brand has already signed on for a whopping 91 new restaurants through eight franchise agreements in the first quarter of 2024 alone and expects 10 more openings this year, including locations in Nashville, Tennessee; Janesville, Wisconsin; and Roswell, Georgia — the brand’s first locations in each state.

“We are thrilled to welcome Taylor to the Layne’s family as he embarks on this exciting venture in East Texas,” said Samir Wattar, chief operating officer of Layne’s Chicken Fingers. “His extensive experience in the franchise industry and dedication to excellence are exactly what we look for in our partners. Together, we are looking forward to making Layne’s a beloved household name in East Texas and beyond.”

For more information on the costs to buy a Layne’s Chicken Fingers franchise, visit: https://1851franchise.com/layneschickenfingers/.

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.