Located on East Willow Street, across from the Sojo gas station, sits a little restaurant called Carol’s Chicken Basket. It might not catch your eye at first, but if you take the time to walk in the front door your mouth will start to water as the smell of hamburgers and chicken fingers, in all their greasy glory, immediately fills your nostrils.
The owner, Carol, said she has no idea how long the restaurant has been open, but she bought it 25 years ago.
“It was for sale, and I had lived over in Ridgedale all my life,” she said. “We ate here when we were kids. It just seemed like the thing to do.”
The food is just the same as it has been since Carol was a kid, she said.
“We kept the same things,” she said. “It’s been the same chicken fingers and sauce ever since.”
For Carol, there was no steep learning curve when she entered the restaurant business for herself, because she had experience working at Tate’s BBQ.
“Doing that I got the gist of what was going on day to day. If we were super busy and I had to help the cook, it was no big deal,” she said.
She did, however, have some help in keeping things traditional at the Chicken Basket.
“Louise Porter had been here for years and years,” Carol said. “When I bought this place I kept her and she knew everything. She got us into what we needed to do.”
The menu is large at Carol’s Chicken Basket. One can order hamburgers, salads, sandwiches, stuffed potatoes, hickory smoked barbeque and even chicken gizzards. The best part is it’s all fresh and homemade.
“We have a lot of variety for a chicken place,” Carol joked.
The biggest seller though, of course, is the chicken finger basket, which comes with four fingers, fries, sauce and a roll for around five bucks.
Carol said she sees a lot of familiar faces at her establishment.
“It’s pretty cool that we have regulars,” she said.
One of the best deals you can get at the Chicken Basket is the Finger Feast. It comes with 16 fingers, a pint of homemade slaw, four sauces, four rolls and a large order of fries for $15.
“We sell a lot of them,” Carol said. “If mom and dad both work, it’s so much easier to grab something quick and cheap and take it home.”
If you are in the mood for dessert, you won’t have to lament over what to choose because there are only two choices. But they are both good ones. Carol bakes fresh brownies and sells them for only fifty cents each. Or you can get a milkshake made from hand-dipped ice cream. If you’re really in the mood for something sweet, you could mix those two up and order the Hot Brownie Sunday, made with those homemade brownies, syrup and ice cream.
Carol said she doesn’t care who you are or how you’re dressed, you’re always welcome to dine at her restaurant.
“We’ll sweep up after you if you kick the mud off your boots,” she said. “We are just an all American place I guess, where the average working Joe comes to eat, and that’s’ pretty cool. We like it.”