Selling a Ton of the Best Fried Chicken Around…Every Day!
COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch
Fried chicken is just one of those foods that is synonymous with the South – and people flock from literally hundreds of miles around to get their fried chicken at Columbus’ own Food Goant supermarket, which has been supplying the all of their customers with tender, juicy birds for a decade or so.
Head fry cook Bobby Hill and Matt Critcher, one of Hill’s five fry cooks, batter chicken at Food Giant in Columbus Wednesday afternoon.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff
Bobbie Reese, the store’s deli manager, says that ” . . . [We] sell about 3,800 pieces a day; more on weekends,” she said. “It’s hard to say. I do know we order 275 cases of chicken each week and by the time Monday rolls around, we’ll have two, maybe three cases left before the next order comes in.” That works out to over six tons of of chicken sold every every week, year-round – nor far short of a ton a day. On average, their deli has 1,400 customers per week, according to store manager Ty Dankins, who has been there from the beginning.
“Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Macon, West Point,” Reese said. “There is a church in Birmingham that comes in once a month to pick up an 800-piece order. They say they can’t find chicken that tastes like ours anywhere else.” To what does she credit such amazing customer loyalty? “It’s the batter,” Reese said. “That’s all I’m going to say. It’s a secret.”
The store uses four commercial-grade frying machines, each capable of cooking 112 pieces of chicken per hour from 7 AM to 6:30 PM daily. Each one is drained of oil, cleaned, and refilled twice a day with peanut oil to guarantee a fresh, clean taste, and an end product that is much less greasy than many place’s fare.
“There’s little bit of a lull until around 4,” Bobby Hill, the store’s head fry cook and manager of all things chicken-related, said. “Then people start coming in to pick up supper . . . I’ve been frying chicken since Day 1,” he went on to say. “When I came in for the job interview, they told me, ‘We sell a lot of chicken. Don’t let the chicken whoop you.’ I said, ‘No, I’m going to whoop that chicken.’ That first day, I couldn’t believe it. I came here from Flint, Michigan. People like fried chicken there, and I guess people everywhere like fried chicken. But it’s not like what it is here. It’s amazing.”
The store is well-equipped to handle unusually large orders, though they suggest that you call well in advance for the really big ones: “If you’re going to make a big order like 800 pieces, you better do it about a week ahead of time because the order book fills up pretty quick,” Hill said. “If somebody walks in and orders 100 pieces, we tell them, ‘Sure, we can do that, but you might have to wait 10 or 15 minutes,'” Hill said. “I bet if you walk into one of those fried chicken order places and tried to order 100 pieces, they’d tell you you’re crazy.”
The display case is piled high with freshly fried chicken by 8 am each morning at Food Giant in Columbus – Photo by Deanna Robinson – Dispatch Staff
“Sunday is our biggest day,” Reese said. “We’ll have people lined up all the way to the back of the store. People don’t mind waiting.”
Food Giant, an employee-owned company, operates more than 100 stores across the Southern U.S., under names including Food Giant, Piggly Wiggly, Cost Plus, Pick ‘n Save, Market Place, Sureway and Mad Butcher. Their workers and managers are all allowed the opportunity to purchase stock in their own store, which tends to lead to a sense of pride in their store, and a personal investment in its success. This means that more of the money made literally stays right here in Columbus, in the hands of the people who work hardest to keep it running smoothly – and THAT’S Good for Business!
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