Golden Skillet is a fast-food chain selling fried chicken that began in Richmond, Virginia. The first Golden Skillet chicken was sold in 1964 at the downtown Richmond department store Thalhimer's. It was the recipe of Clifton W. Guthrie, who first served the recipe at a Richmond Planning Commission meeting. Thalhimer executive Newman Hamblet was there, and decided to add it to the menu at the downtown store's Richmond Room. It was originally called Chicken and Spice and Virginia Fried Chicken.
Thalhimers was featured in Women's Wear Daily when they turned a railroad dock at their Westmoreland store into a restaurant location, and it became a top profit generator for the store. Its official name was Thalhimers Golden Skillet Chicken, and the slogan was that it was "Tender as Quail! Tasty as Pheasant!" While the recipe was not published, the chicken was cooked in special pressure-cookers and the process involved soaking the chicken in salt water.
The first freestanding location opened in 1968 at 5811 West Broad Street in Richmond; the design included a yellow roof and giant pan-shaped sign.
Guthrie died in 1981, and the family sold to International Dairy Queen. Dairy Queen sold the chain to franchisee David Shields of North Carolina. Most of the franchised locations have eventually closed. Along the roadside, evidence of the chain still remains, as the giant pan-shaped signs remain even after locations gain new tenants. Today some original locations are still operating, including a Guthrie family owned location in south Richmond at 3206 Jefferson Davis Highway.
One of the most popular franchise owners of Golden Skillets was Wesley Yang who alone owned 45 of 221 restaurants. All 45 of his restaurants were in Hampton Roads, mainly in Virginia Beach. As of 2008 only two of his restaurants are still operating, one in Virginia Beach and the other in Portsmouth.
Hubbard, Valerie (August 2003). "Golden Skillet: Virginia's Answer to Colonel Sanders". Virginia Living magazine. pp. 104–107.
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