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Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken Coming To Chicago

By Lisa White in Food on Feb 18, 2015 4:15PM

Why is the sun shining and everything seems lovely today? Maybe it's because this morning Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken announced they are opening a bevy of new locations this year...including one in Chicago. If you heard shrieks of joy from Logan Square this morning, reminiscent of Oprah's audience during a "Favorite Things" episode, that was just me when I heard the news.

If you aren't familiar with Gus's, its origins of course start in a small joint down south. Napoleon “Na” Bonner and his wife Maggie opened a tiny restaurant in downtown Mason, Tennessee in the early 1950s with a recipe that now boasts a cult following with fried chicken fans and regularly comes up in debates as one of the best around. They invented their famous fried chicken recipes in 1953, a recipe so loved by the community that it raised enough money to help the Bonner family move to a larger location in 1973. The secret recipe for their chicken is closely guarded, many a high price has been offered for it, and according to Gus's history only five living family members know the recipe. The empire is still run by the Bonner family, now in its third generation frying chicken, and has expanded due to popularity during the last decade. The praise and love for Gus's fried chicken is monumental, causing outrage when Gus's was left off Bon App├ętit's best fried chicken in the U.S. list and even Saveur has tried to recreate the recipe.

According to Gus's post on their Facebook page, they are planning on opening eight locations in 2015, including outposts in St. Louis, Missouri and Los Angeles, California. No exact locations or date of openings have been announced yet, but they make an effort to point out they'll be taking their time to make sure the quality is up to Gus's standards before opening each new location. Obviously we hope Chicago is the first and likely will be bugging them soon for any crumb of detail. Hell, maybe we'll hope a Megabus to Memphis and ask them in person. Any excuse to eat at Gus's.

When people ask me what one of my last meals would be if I had a choice, Gus's always makes the list. And I'm not the only Chicagoan with a deep love of their perfectly fried, juicy bird. I've seriously considered having my friend in Memphis attempt to mail it to me. The first time I visited Gus's with my boyfriend, we split a meal, finished it and immediately ordered a second round. Their chicken has just the right balance of heat in their spice blend, it is fried to perfection with the most crisp and delicious crust and is truly a culinary art. They also have some of the best fried green tomatoes on their menu as well, the cornmeal batter never falling off and each tomato perfectly firm, never mushy. Prepare yourself, Chicago, for fried chicken royalty is headed our way.