Slim Chickens is coming to Rio Rancho. It will be located at 1909 Wellspring Ave. SE near ALON gas station. (Gregory Hasman/Observer)

Another nationwide fast-food restaurant is coming to Rio Rancho.  

Slim Chickens will open at 1909 Wellspring Ave. SE near the ALON gas station within a year.   

The restaurant’s menu includes chicken tenders, chicken waffles, wraps and milk shakes.

‘We will find the employees’  

Last Thursday, the Rio Rancho Governing Body OK’d the company’s site plan to build the restaurant.   

“With that approval, we intend to move as rapidly as we can,” Slim Chickens restaurant franchisee Dennis Ekstrom told the Observer on Monday morning. 

Construction is expected to begin sometime in the next two months, and the restaurant could open in 10 months or early 2023, he added.

That’s based on the contractor’s feedback. The process of getting things ready has been a little slower than usual due to supply chain issues, Ekstrom said.   

The business could bring in between 80 and 100 jobs, he said, though he acknowledges that the nationwide labor shortage could make the hiring process tougher than usual.   

“It’s difficult and challenging, but I’m not going to let that stop us,” Ekstrom said. “We will find the employees.”

Making an investment  

Getting a new restaurant is welcoming news to members of the governing body.   

“I’m always in favor of more services,” Rio Rancho Councilor Paul Wymer said. “We can always use more service-type jobs and options for our residents to take advantage of.”  

“Business investments are really important and (I) appreciate owners or operators coming into the city and investing in it,” Mayor Gregg Hull said.   

There will be plenty of room for motorists once the restaurant opens. 

The area would allow for as many as 27 cars to sit in line at the drive-thru “without any type of blocking” of parked cars or the formation of lines onto other streets, Tierra West LLC President Ron Bohannan told the governing body.

Additional expansion 

There is only one Slim Chickens in New Mexico (Farmington) but a few more are on the way.   

Aside from Rio Rancho, Ekstrom said there are plans to open three restaurants in Albuquerque, although he declined to give the exact locations in Duke City because competitors are looking at the same sites.  

The plan is to have a presence throughout the city, he said, but he had no timeline for the openings. 

Ekstrom, who owns Del Taco in New Mexico, hopes to open more Slim Chickens in the state. Places he mentioned as potential locations include Alamogordo, Bernalillo, Clovis and Gallup. 

Slim Chickens, a Fayetteville, Arkansas-based company, opened its first location in 2003 and has chains in 27 states and the United Kingdom.  

For more information on the company, visit   

For a look at the site plan, visit Updated Slim Chickens Site Plan 3-15-22.