I was talking to several coworkers today about their remembrances of Shorty's Fried Chicken and all anyone could agree on was its' mediocre service. It was sad because the chicken was not half bad. Shorty's Fried Chicken showed up in the mid to late 1970's around the Central Missouri area. I had just returned to Fulton after three years in the army and got my old job back as a manager of the KFC store in Fulton. My district manager at the time talked about this chicken place in Columbia that "stole" all the secrets from the Kentucky Fried Chicken playbook. After being trained at the KFC University in Louisville KY, trainees were given a large notebook full of recipes and procedures on how to run a store. Apparently someone got a copy of one of these notebooks and started their own restaurant chain. Having never ate at Shorty's I did not think much about it until I moved to Columbia in 1979.
Shorty's had two locations in town and maybe the same number in Jefferson City, at least that is what I remember at this time. They had a pretty good business and I had heard through the KFC pipeline that they put the Columbia KFCs to shame as far as quality and sales. (One secret was that both KFC and Shorty's shared the same chicken supplier and they would ask how much raw chicken was delivered to Shorty's.) I must admit, even though I am a Kentucky Fried Chicken man through and through, Columbia KFC locations were terrible as the food tasted bad and the stores were dirty. It was no wonder Shorty's took away their business.
Two things changed at KFC which may have been brought on by Shorty's influence. First, fresh baked biscuits were offered at Shorty's but at the time KFC only had tasteless, thawed out rolls that were heated to make them soft. Second was the way they cut the chicken. KFC had a nine piece cut that resulted in three white meat pieces, a keel or breast and two ribs that each had a small portion of the breast. Shorty's had a eight piece cut that resulted in two halves of the chicken breast that were large. The quality of their side orders was nothing to write about and to this day I cannot remember if they were good. The main thing I remember is the left over chicken that was available the next day. Shorty's sold cold chicken that was left over and it tasted better than the fresh fried product. I would go there when they first opened, usually the Paris Rd. location and buy the day old chicken. Nothing much comes back to me as far as memories.
I have searched the Internet and found nothing to help my memory of this restaurant chain. It did have a series of television commercials of the owner's mother or grandmother walking around with music and someone talking in the background on how great her food was. I think the lady actually lived in Sturgeon or someplace north of Columbia. Once again I quit going to Shorty's for reasons unknown and they had disappeared from the local business landscape before I knew they were gone. I would welcome input on any other info regarding Shorty's from the reading masses and even Mr. Ed if he can remember. Until next time.