James and Lisa Tillman, Huey Magoo’s franchise owners, talk about their plans to open five stores in the Springfield region while seated inside the restaurant on East Sunshine on Sept. 7, 2023. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

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The Huey Magoo’s chicken tender empire is taking shape in Springfield, with four more locations in the region slated to open in the next year and plans for a possible sixth location in Branson in the works, owner James Tillman said Sept. 7.

The Ozark store, located at 5402 N. 23rd St., will have a grand opening in October, but an exact date is to be decided, Tillman said. The owners had planned on opening the store last month, but some permit delays have caused it to be pushed back, Tillman said.

“We’re super excited about that location,” Tillman said. “We acquired the land about one year ago.”

Along with his business partner and wife, Lisa, Tillman aims to open the next three stores in Springfield, Nixa and Republic by the end of next summer, he said. The Florida-based restaurant made its Springfield debut last April at 3352 E. Sunshine, bringing popular dishes like the Chicken Tender Platter, the Magoo Wrap and the Farm Fresh Salad to the Queen City.

Second Springfield location

The second Springfield store will be located somewhere on Battlefield Road, but the exact location cannot be disclosed at this time, Tillman said. The couple expects it to be their third store to open, which will happen in nine months to one year, Tillman said.

“We’re doing something a little unusual, a little unique,” Tillman said, adding that he could not add any more details at this time.

The Tillmans have land leases for all five locations under contract, with each location costing between $700,000 and $1 million, he said. The Huey Magoo’s franchise fee is $35,000, with royalty fees and marketing fees of 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively, according to the company website. The franchise rights for all five locations were purchased in a package, Tillman said.

The Republic store will be located on the new State Route MM near the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Brookline, Tillman said. Amazon’s nearby location should help draw in large lunch crowds, he said.

A Huey Magoo’s franchisee is recommended to have a minimum of $250,000 in assets and a net worth of $750,000, according to the company’s website. The initial financial obligation when opening a new unit is as much as $569,800.

“It costs more than a million dollars to open a restaurant,” Tillman said.

Huey Magoo’s on East Sunshine Street in Springfield, Missouri. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

The Tillmans look to “slow down”

While Branson may mark the Tillman’s sixth Huey Magoo’s location, it is not guaranteed, James Tillman said. The land has not been purchased, but they are in talks with the city of Branson on it, Tillman said.

“If it works out, it works out,” Lisa Tillman said. “If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

The couple owns the franchise rights for Huey Magoo’s in southwest Missouri, so no one else can open a location here, James Tillman said. If they open more than five locations, additional franchising fees would have to be worked out, he said.

“Springfield, Nixa, then Republic right after that,” he said, laughing. “Then we’ll retire.”

Even though the couple hopes to wind down a bit after opening the five — and possibly six — Huey Magoo’s franchises, they will have plenty to keep them busy, Tillman said.

The Tillmans’ portfolio includes about 50 commercial real estate buildings, with the majority in Springfield, that house businesses like Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A, Five Guys and many more, Tillman said. The couple also owns seven First Watch restaurants, two of which are in Springfield, and two climate-controlled storage facilities, Tillman said.

“After these Huey Magoo’s,” Lisa Tillman said, “I’m ready to slow down a little bit.”

Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins is the business and economic development reporter for the Springfield Daily Citizen. Collins graduated from Glendale High School in 2011 before studying journalism and economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously worked for Bloomberg News. Contact him at (417) 849-2570 or rcollins@sgfcitizen.org. More by Ryan Collins