(in the United States)
Church's Texas Chicken
(outside the United States)
|Founded||April 17, 1952San Antonio, Texasin|
|Founder||George W. Church Sr.|
|Headquarters||Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.|
Number of locations
|North America, Caribbean, South America, Asia, Europe, New Zealand|
|Products||Fast food, including fried chicken, French fries, and biscuits|
|Revenue|| US$ 786 million (2018)|
US$ 785.96 million (2017)
|Owner||Friedman Fleischer & Lowe|
Church's Chicken is an American fast food restaurant chain that specializes in fried chicken and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The chain was founded as Church's Fried Chicken To-Go by George W. Church Sr. on April 17, 1952, in San Antonio, Texas, across the street from The Alamo. Church's Chicken trades as Texas Chicken or Church's Texas Chicken outside the United States. The chain is currently owned by American private equity firm Friedman Fleischer & Lowe.
As of 2017, Church's Chicken has more than 1,700 franchised and company-owned locations in 26 countries.
Initially, Church's Chicken was a single walk-up establishment that only sold fried chicken, and two pieces of chicken and a roll cost 49 cents. Church's Chicken added fries and jalapeños to its menu in 1955. To allow customers to see their food prepared while they waited, Church Sr. designed the kitchen with the fryers next to the takeout window.
Early expansion, franchising and sale
The company had four restaurants by the time of Church Sr.'s death in 1956. After his death, family members took over operations, and in 1962, with Church Sr.'s son Bill Church Jr. as top executive, there were eight restaurants in San Antonio. To begin expanding and franchising in 1965, Church Jr. and his brother Richard developed a signature marinade that could be prepared at any location. Former vacuum cleaner salesman J. David Bamberger, who first met Church Jr. when he joined Bamberger's vacuum cleaner distributorship, joined Church's Chicken in 1965 to oversee the franchising. By 1967, the chain opened restaurants in five Texan cities outside of San Antonio and operated 17 restaurants in 1968.
In 1966, a contract between Church's Fried Chicken, Inc. and Jim Dandy Fast Foods, Inc. gave Jim Dandy the right to use the trade names and trademarks "Church's Fried Chicken" or "Church's" within fifty miles Houston's city hall and within the city limits of Galveston, Texas for ten years, as long as Church's Chicken received the agreed upon royalties.
In 1968, the Church family sold the company, which became incorporated and went public in 1969. By the end of that year, there were more than 100 Church's Chicken restaurants in seven states, making the chain the first from Texas to become a national one. Church's Chicken gained 387 more restaurants between 1969 and 1974.
In 1980, Church Jr. resigned as corporation chairman and was replaced by childhood friend Roger Harvin.
Global and national expansion
Church's Chicken began its international expansion in 1979 and the first location was in Japan. Afterwards, locations in Canada, Malaysia, Mexico and Taiwan were opened under the trade name "Texas Chicken". The first locations in Puerto Rico opened after locations in Japan were opened.
In February 2008, Church's Chicken entered the UK market under the "Texas Chicken" name, claiming to have signed up 50 former Dixy Chicken franchisees. However, only a small number of restaurants opened, with one in High Road Leytonstone, London, and another in Salford, Greater Manchester. They withdrew from the country a few years later, and the former Texas Chicken location in Leytonstone was replaced with a new independent fried chicken restaurant known as Tex Bites. (Church's in the UK is also the name of an unrelated shoe store chain.)
In 2017, Church’s Chicken announced a multi-year development deal with Goalz Restaurant Group, LLC to develop 20 Church’s Chicken restaurants each year in Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina and South Carolina.
As of 2017, Church's Chicken has more than 1,700 locations worldwide. Its international locations include Bahrain, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Cambodia, Curaçao, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Vientiane (Laos), Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Venezuela and Vietnam.
After a four-month legal dispute to avoid a takeover, Church's Chicken became the second largest chicken restaurant chain when it was acquired by Popeyes for $330 million in 1989. The acquisition court documents stated that Church's Chicken would close 250 of its restaurants, "keep 92 with the Church's name, rename 303 others as Popeyes and sell 440 others for about $160 million over the next four years". Merrill Lynch and a group of banks led by Canadian Imperial financed the acquisition, and in 1992, Popeyes' parent company, Al Copeland Enterprises, Inc., was forced to file chapter 11 bankruptcy for the more than $400 million debt it owed its creditors for the Church's Chicken buyout. In 1993, Al Copeland Enterprises, Inc. was renamed AFC Enterprises, Inc., or America's Favorite Chicken, and became the parent company of Church's Chicken and Popeyes. 
In 2004, Arcapita bought Church's Chicken from AFC Enterprises, Inc., and former Domino's Pizza and Little Caesars executive Harsha Agadi became president and CEO of Church's Chicken. Because Arcapita invests in companies that respect Shari'ah principles, it removed pork products from the Church's Chicken menu in 2005.
In 2007, AFC Enterprises, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Church's Chicken and former franchise group CVI Company for allegedly colluding to breach Popeyes' franchise, development and guaranty agreements with CVI when "Church's [Chicken] bought all 10 of CVI's Popeyes' restaurants and converted most of them to the Church's Chicken brand". 
On August 10, 2009, San Francisco private equity firm Friedman Fleischer & Lowe bought Church's Chicken from Arcapita at an estimated value of $390 million, according to Financial Times. In June 2019, it was reported that Friedman Fleischer & Lowe placed the company up for sale after years of declining sales and store count numbers.
On August 2, 2021, Church's Chicken announced that it would be acquired by High Bluff-backed Rego Restaurant Group, the owners of Quiznos and Taco del Mar. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the third quarter.
By the mid-to late-1990s, Church's Chicken and hamburger chain White Castle announced their co-franchise, in which both companies would sell their own separate products while operating in some shared restaurant spaces with some shared personnel. In Canada, Church's Chicken items were once available in Harvey's restaurants, but the co-venture was discontinued.
Oklahoma restaurant closures
In 2015, the Oklahoma Tax Commission shuttered 15 Church's Chicken restaurants owned by the Reciprocity Restaurant Group LLC for not paying more than $400,000 in sales taxes to the state of Oklahoma.
Company executives announced a franchisee relief plan where Church’s Chicken franchisees could defer 50% of their royalties and ad fund contributions for the next four weeks, beginning March 30, 2020.
Church's Chicken offers chicken combos, family meals and tenders. The combos and family meals include a choice of one or more sides, including fried okra, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, honey butter biscuits and jalapeño peppers. The dessert menu includes the Texas sheet cake cup and apple pie. 
In 2021, Church's Chicken announced Performance Food Group Company as its exclusive distributor in the United States through 2026.
Sponsorship & Philanthropy
Church’s Partners Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charity that supports the employees of and employees of franchisees of Church’s Chicken, their families and their communities.  The foundation awards $1,000 scholarships to American high school students through their Church's Scholars Program and announced that over $227,000 worth of scholarships would be awarded during the 2018–2019 academic year.
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