Planning director says Slim Chickens development in Willmar at a standstill but still expected to happen

Willmar Planning and Development Director Justice Walker clarifies what he said during the May 11 Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission meeting.

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WILLMAR — The development of a Slim Chickens restaurant in Willmar is still expected, though the project is currently at a standstill.

That is the latest information from Willmar Planning and Development Director Justice Walker.

In West Central Tribune story published online May 19 that reported business updates including on Slim Chickens , Walker was quoted as saying during a May 11 meeting that the plans for the Slim Chickens restaurant at the location of the former Pizza Hut "kind of evaporated," but he later said that did not mean the development would not happen at all.

Following the publication of that story, Walker had some clarifications to make about the information he shared at the May 11 Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission, saying "the conclusion is a little off" with regard to Slim Chickens.

Walker left a message with the West Central Tribune after the initial publication, stating the report was incorrect and clarifying what was happening with Slim Chickens — that the project has been delayed, but the developer still intends on building a Slim Chickens in Willmar.


Slim Chickens will be located at 1605 S. First St.

In a phone interview, Walker said, “The quote was correct ... because there is like a level of ambiguity in it. But yeah, even when I called them and I spoke to him, he was like, ‘No, we’re still coming, can’t tell you when, don’t know what’s holding us up, but we’ll be there.’ There is like an underground issue. They did run into push back from corporate about their design. So, they are at a pretty significant standstill, but they have every intention to move forward.”

The plan review for Slim Chickens was approved at the Oct. 19, 2022, Willmar Planning Commission meeting, and one of the conditions is that construction must commence within one year or a letter of extension must be submitted to the Planning Commission.

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At a meeting in November, owner Steve Letnes had said he was currently developing 13 Slim Chickens locations, mostly in Minnesota, and Willmar would be the third in the state, behind Mankato and St. Cloud. Letnes described the restaurant as something between Chick-fil-A and Raising Canes.

Jennifer Kotila is a reporter for West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. She focuses on local government, specifically the City of Willmar, and business.

She can be reached via email at: or phone at 320-214-4339.
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