MESA, AZ — The same day that parts of Arizona saw rain, hail, graupel, and snow -- a seemingly unusual, yet not entirely uncommon combination of weather in the southwest -- Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken opened its doors in downtown Mesa, its first location in the state.
"That was kind of crazy," Wendy McCrory, president of Gus’s franchising, told ABC15 on Tuesday about the weather. "But it gave us something to talk about.
The restaurant is located on Main Street, near Robson, between Worth Takeaway and Oro Brewing Company.
"People were not afraid to get out and visit us," she said. "When it's cold outside, what's better than a warm plate of fried chicken and a cold beer?”
McCrory said she chose to open in downtown Mesa because she liked the city’s up-and-coming feel.
“It just felt like an up-and-coming (area),” she said. “You could see lots of things happening…and really felt vibrant.”
WHAT’S ON THE MENU?
Gus's specializes in Memphis-style, southern fried chicken, not Nashville hot chicken, which has become a popular item in its own right on restaurant menus in the Valley.
Their chicken is coated in a batter and fried in peanut oil, versus a breading, which is what makes their chicken different, said McCrory.
“It’s very moist. It is very flavorful. With that little bit of spice, all of our sides…tend to be on the sweeter side,” she said.
People can choose individual pieces of chicken — breast, thigh, wing, leg, tender — or combination plates that are paired with a side.
Sides include baked beans, fried okra, potato salads, fries, mac and cheese, and coleslaw. They also have fried pickle spears and green tomatoes for starters.
MORE LOCATIONS ON THE WAY
Gus’s was founded more than six decades ago in Mason, Tennessee, a small town outside of Memphis by Napoleon “Na” Vanderbilt and his wife, Maggie, according to its website.
The community helped the two opened Maggie’s Short Orders in 1973, which remains open today, just renamed under the Gus’s brand.
After their deaths, their son, Vernon “Gus” Bronner renamed the restaurant in 1984. The brand has franchised and expanded to 31 restaurants around the U.S.
McCrory said there are plans to open two more restaurants in downtown Phoenix and Tempe.
“We are doubling down,” she said on the expansion.
“We’re here because I love this area. I love the Phoenix area. I love the people here.”
She said the downtown Phoenix location was expected to open by the end of the summer or early fall.
Tempe would be the furthest out because it will be located in a historic building, she said. An opening timeline wasn’t provided.
IF YOU GO:
Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken
212 W Main St Mesa, AZ 85201
Sunday – Thursday, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.