........For more than a quarter of a century, I've made at least annual pilgrimages to the original location in Kansas City. In December 2005, the city declared eminent domain and bought the building to expand the roadway next to it. The owner, Mike Donegan, who has a second location in North Kansas City, had been looking since then for a new space, and finally found it in Fairway, Kan., just across the Missouri border. He tried to recreate the feel of the original place -- of course he could never replicate the sloped floors or the crooked window jams -- but he did mimic the original red and white checkered tablecloths and the frilly yellow cafe curtains.
I was there recently, less than a month after opening, and I'm pleased to report that the chicken is as good as ever. I peaked into the kitchen to see four large pans of chicken bubbling and spattering in oil to produce a distinctive crackling-crisp coating. I swear it's the best fried chicken I've ever eaten, and I'm always trying to find something to compare, which is hard in the Bay Area.
The new Stroud's has been fully embraced by locals too. Though it holds twice as many people, even at 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon the wait was more than 90 minutes, and often it stretches to two hours. People wait patiently, ordering a beer or cocktail in the bar and then hanging around outside. It feels almost like a neighborhood block party.
Another thing hasn't changed either: The staff still wears and sells the popular T-shirts with the retro Stroud's logo and the tag line scrawled on the back: "We choke our own chickens."
I've decided that when I finish up with pizza, I may just have to go on a quest for the best fried chicken (if I can wait that long). If you have your favorites, please let me know; it's never too early to start.