Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken

During an era of racial divide in the small community of Mason, Tenn., Napoleon “Na” Vanderbilt created something everyone agreed on. They loved Na’s fried chicken. After experimenting in a local tavern, Na and his wife, Maggie, began selling their chicken, sandwiched between white bread, out of the tavern’s back door.  As demand grew, the couple was encouraged to build a restaurant and locals offered building materials. Na built the restaurant on land they owned on Highway 70, and Maggie’s Short Orders opened in 1973.  The building still stands today. Na’s only son, Vernon “Gus” Bonner, inherited his parent’s priceless recipe and the restaurant. In 1984, Gus and his wife, Gertrude, reopened under the name “Gus’s World Famous Hot and Spicy Fried Chicken.” Renowned for chicken crisp golden-brown on the outside, moist and succulent on the inside, salted and seasoned with just enough cayenne pepper, combo plates are served with baked beans, sweet cole slaw and white bread. Before long, fans stretched far beyond Mason. In 2001, “GQ” named Gus’s fried chicken one of the top 10 meals in the United States worth flying for. Memphis native Wendy McCrory loved Gus’s so much she would make the 40-mile trek to Mason so out-of-town guests could enjoy it. Wendy began working at the Mason location, and in 2001 she opened the downtown Memphis location.  She has since expanded to 14 locations in eight states. The recipe remains secret. As Gus once quipped, “This is a dead man’s recipe (and) I ain’t telling.”

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310 S Front St, Memphis, TN 38103, United States
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Opening times
Mon: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
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