BY OLIVIER J. BOURGOIN
GUS’S WORLD FAMOUS FRIED CHICKEN has brought its Memphis, Tenn., tastes to Southtown with the debut of a fifth Texas location.
The latest Lone Star State site is at 812 S. Alamo St.
Mark Topham, a native of Wisconsin, is running the show and said he’s enjoying the feel of the near South Side.
“We looked at several different possibilities for this first Alamo City outpost and I’m very happy that we settled on this location. Where else can you find a space to rent in a 100-year-old building?” he said.
Fried chicken front and center on the menu. Side dishes include baked beans, fried okra, macaroni and cheese, and seasoned fries. Fried green tomatoes and fried pickle spears also are available.
All the chicken is fresh, never frozen, natural and hormone-free, and fried exclusively in peanut oil, employees said.
There are 33 restaurants in 14 states and counting.
The eatery traces it roots to Maggie and Napoleon “Na” Bonner, who died in the early 1980s. Vernon “Gus” Bonner inherited the restaurant his parents built in Mason, Tennessee.
in 1973. He also inherited the recipe they had been perfecting since 1953, when they first started selling their spicy fried chicken between two slices of white bread from the back door of a local tavern.
Originally named “Maggie’s Short Orders” to honor Gus Bonner’s mom, in 1984, Bonner and his wife, Gertrude, introduced a new moniker, “Gus’s World Famous Hot and Spicy Fried Chicken.”
Enter Wendy McCrory, a native of Memphis and an early fan of Gus’s fare. A single mom working multiple jobs, McCrory started picking up shifts at the restaurant, then by 2001 she took over as a master franchisor for the brand.
The recipe has remained true to its origins, and the decor is unchanged — simple and no-nonsense.
“As you can see, all our table covers are mismatched and that’s by design,” said Topham, who holds a degree in restaurant management.
“When Wendy McCrory opened her first restaurant, she didn’t have a lot of money to spend so she went and bought whatever furniture she could find and most of it was mismatched. We want to honor our roots and her entrepreneurship.”
Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.