It’s Bo time, y’all.
It’s no secret we Southerners love our fried chicken. Whether it’s from a high-end restaurant with white tablecloths or a quick chicken joint you can swing by on your way home, fried chicken is a respected dish we have pretty high standards for. One of the South’s favorite chicken spots? Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n’ Biscuits. The Charlotte-based restaurant first opened in 1977 and has been successful ever since: Today, there are over 765 locations in 11 primarily-southeastern states. While the company continues to expand, with locations as far north as Pennsylvania, Bojangles’ remains a Southern institution. You may know the Bojangles’ menu—from biscuits and Bo-rounds for breakfast to spicy Cajun chicken for dinner—but here are 5 facts you probably haven’t heard about your favorite chicken joint.
The Co-Founders Had Impressive Fast-Food and Fried Chicken Experience
Bojangles’ co-founders both had already established careers in the fast food—and specifically fried chicken—restaurant world before opening their own place. One of the founders, John Fulk, owned a Hardee’s franchise and regularly caused a bit of a stir with corporate because he was always tinkering with the menu at his location. But that tinkering always sold well with customers. One of the recipes he perfected while working for Hardee’s was his famous biscuits. Richard Thomas proved to be the perfect business partner for Fulk. He had served as president of operations for KFC—a position he moved up the ranks to after sleeping outside Colonel Sanders’ office to ask for a job.
Those Biscuits Are No Joke
The biscuit recipe Fulk had perfected wasn’t actually on the Bojangles’ menu when they first opened. But when they did eventually add it, sales increased 60 percent. To this day, those famous flaky biscuits are made from scratch in the restaurant every 20 minutes, a task that’s considered more of an art form than a science by employees.
And Neither Is the Chicken
Unlike many fast-food chains, Bojangles’ proudly stands by the fact that its food is never frozen. The chicken is delivered fresh to each franchise location, and there is 12-hour marination process followed by an 8-step breading process done by hand.
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Their New York Opening Was a Big Deal—and So Was Its Closing
In 1982, the company opened a location in Times Square—the only one outside of the southeast. The Manhattan location was a great success, enough so to earn an article about their opening day in The New Yorker. An executive at the time told the reporter, “Biscuits are going to take the North by storm." And they did until 2007 when the restaurant was purchased and the new owners decided to close the New York restaurant since it was so far from the bulk of other locations.
It’s Stronger Than a Hurricane
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo wrecked the Carolinas like no other storm before it had. And while the government may recognize Waffle House’s resilience during big storms, Bojangles’ earned lifetime loyalty from locals who relied on the restaurant when it remained open (the employees cooked with propane) during power outages caused by Hugo.