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Pioneer Chicken, (or Pioneer Take Out, as it is officially named), is an American fried chicken restaurant which was founded in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles in 1961 by H.R. Kaufman. When Kaufman sold the chain in 1987, there were 270 stores operated by 220 franchisees. During the 1970s, several locations operated in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. As of 2015, there are only two locations remaining - both in Los Angeles.
It was named after Pioneer Market, a now-defunct small chain of supermarkets in Los Angeles. The original location in Echo Park was located next to the 1980s era Pioneer Market (the original 1932 market having been torn down in the 1980s) and is (now a Walgreens Pharmacy) on Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. Due to considerable redevelopment activity in the neighborhood caused by gentrification, it was shut down in March 2009. During the 1980s, Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn and former football player O.J. Simpson used to advertise for the restaurant.
AFC Enterprises acquisition
There are two remaining locations in the Los Angeles area: 1) 904 S. Soto Street, Los Angeles; and 2) 6323 Florence Avenue, Bell Gardens.
In 1983, three alumni from the University of Southern California decided to open a Pioneer Chicken franchise in Jakarta under the name California Fried Chicken. As of 2013, the parent company of the stores in Indonesia, Pioneerindo Gourmet International, currently have over 200 CFC restaurants throughout that nation. CFC had a few franchises in Shanghai during the 1990s, but they may not currently exist.
In popular culture
Warren Zevon's song "Carmelita" refers to Pioneer Chicken: "I pawned my Smith Corona / And I went to meet my man / He hangs out down on Alvarado Street / By the Pioneer chicken stand". In The Aquabats ' 1997 song "Magic Chicken!", the singer invites the listener to "Do the Pioneer!" during a funk breakdown where various chicken restaurant franchises are named.
In film, the opening of the movie The Last American Virgin shows a Pioneer Chicken location at the northeast corner of Hollywood & Western in the background as the protagonist Gary (Lawrence Monoson), drives off making a pizza delivery. The same location is shown in one scene in Death Wish II and towards the end of the Music video Rhythm Of The Night. The same location's likeness is shown as The Simpsons family home in the "Time And Punishment" segment of Treehouse Of Horror V
A Pioneer Chicken location is briefly shown in the background in the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High during the restaurant scene involving the dissatisfied customer. The site was located on San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California.
- Gelt, Jessica (2009-03-24). "Pioneer Chicken kicks the bucket". Los Angeles Times.
- Sanchez, Jesus; Yoshihara, Nancy (1988-01-19). "A Takeover That Ended a Friendship: Pioneer Take-Out Founder, Purchaser at Odds Over Terms". Los Angeles Times.
- Medearis, John (1991-04-09). "Pioneer Chicken Tries to Emerge From Its Second Bankruptcy". Los Angeles Times.
- "Pioneer Chicken Switches to Popeyes". Los Angeles Times. 1993-06-10.
- "Countries To Go". Adweek. May 20, 1985. Link via LexisNexis.
- "Profil Perusahaan" [Company Profile]. PT Pioneerindo Gourmet International Tbk (in Indonesian). (English translation of webpage) via Google Translate.
- "California Fried Chicken Grows 21%". Indonesia Today. 2013-03-23.
- Chen, Kathy (1997-12-02). "KFC Rules Shanghai's Fast-Food Roost With Ads, Training and Giveaways". Wall Street Journal.
- "Pioneer Chicken in Bankruptcy; Most Stores to Remain Open". Los Angeles Times. January 27, 1991. Retrieved March 22, 2015.