Fifty-nine years after it first opened, and two and a half months after a tweet by The Charlotte Ledger reporting soil sampling taking place behind the restaurant, the news of Price’s Chicken Coop’s closure at the end of business this Saturday, June 19, came suddenly.
A Facebook post made by the restaurant around 10 a.m. on Thursday read: “It is with heavy hearts that The Chicken Coop has decided to close our doors after 59years(sic) of business.” The post continued on, drawing attention to “the labor shortage, rising food costs, food quality and another coin shortage.”
Price’s, as most locals call it, is an icon in the old-school Charlotte food scene, made even more a legend over the years as expensive real estate, trendy eateries, and new development stood in contrast over the simple brick building on Camden Road. In 1986, owner Steven Price took control of the business his father, Taldmadge, and uncle, Pat, opened in 1962 as an extension of Dilworth Poultry Company.
The menu and concept over the years was straightforward — bone-in chicken, livers, gizzards, fish, pork barbecue (read: slow-roasted pork plus sauce), takeout- and cash-only. Throw in some pickle-topped slaw, potato salad, and hush puppies and you understand Price’s. Simple shake-ups, like switching from tater tots to crinkle fries, sent shockwaves through regulars who took ownership over the fried chicken joint, often defending against competitors (“The gas station is better” is a commonly thrown gauntlet).
Each return visit, people knew what to expect — a constantly swinging door of people stepping out, greased-stained white square box in hand, making way for the next person to cram into the tiny waiting area filled with a mix of suits, folks from the neighborhood, and an increasing number of hipsters.
For Charlotte, response to the restaurant’s closing was huge. Locals took to social media with every take imaginable from sadness to remorse to snarky “the other place is better” commentary. But lines don’t lie, and from Thursday to Saturday, it will be stretched around the block with many people standing for 2+ hours, waiting for their last taste of dwindling deep-fried goodness.
The sale price has not been released but Charlotte Business Journal reported the half-acre is valued at $1.7M. So, while a coin shortage may be partly to blame, according to the family, that seems like a problem soon to wane.
• CLTLedger [Twitter]
• Price’s Chicken Coop’s [Official]
• Iconic Price’s Chicken Coop Set to Close in South End After Nearly 60 Years [Charlotte Business Journal]