Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Memories of Shorty's Fried Chicken

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.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Worked in the Sedalia Shorty's in 1978. The Atwell family from Eldon MO were the owners. Nice people. Steve the son,was the manager. Can't remember the dad's name, he was a big old dude. Treated everyone equally and hated to see them shut Shorty's down.

Anonymous said...

I worked at the Jack-in-the-Box in Jeff City in 1978. It was right next to the Shorty's, and I ate many meals there. Best fried chicken I have ever had. They had about 6 different recipes, and none of them were much like KFC, so I don't think they ripped KFC off. The best was a sticky honey batter.

I'm sorry to hear they didn't make it.

oldfatcowboy said...

I loved the BBQ with Sho-Me BBQ sauce, that was the best chicken in the world!

Anonymous said...

I remember the old lady saying she could" fry chicken better than any old man from Kentucky".

Anonymous said...

I read your post with interest and nostalgia. Shorty was my maternal grandfather! I remember when he opened the Columbia restaurant. It was located in a shopping center in front of his house.

Anonymous said...

I remember Shorty's as having the best biscuits around and have missed them. Short's seemed to have disappeared overnight.

Unknown said...

I was picked by Shorty's to do a commercial while I was going to West Blvd. Elementary school. We recorded it on the jungle gym.The two shortest kids in the class. We argued over whether the best attribute was crispy or spicy. The one thing we could agree on was that it was better than anything an old man from Kentucky could do!

I would love to find that commercial! Must have been 1976 or 1977.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in CoMo and loved their BBQ chicken, I think they also had a salad bar. BTW...my Great Grandmother Ketchum was the Shorty's Lady....I got free food whenever I went with in. They had a Paris Rd location and on Providence Rd (in front of the Tribune offices).