Extinct Restaurants

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Jim’s Fried Chicken
Carrollton: 3100 South Carrollton Avenue
1940s-1990s

Everybody remembers Jim’s for fried chicken, including a lot of people who never ate there. Here’s why: a big red neon sign saying “Jim’s Fried Chicken” hung outside its big restaurant on the corner of South Carrollton and Earhart. That intersection is traversed by a large percentage of New Orleans people, many of whom cross it twice a day.

After years of seeing that sign–especially on the way home from school or work, when your appetite is primed–how could you not think of Jim’s whenever fried chicken comes to mind? Popeyes later used this same gambit. The sign on its very first location on opening day yelled “Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken.”

Jim’s was open twenty-four hours. That will bring in a lot of people who otherwise might not have tried the place. The heyday of Jim’s was in the 1950s and 1960s, when fried chicken was still considered a gourmet dish, before the fast-food places destroyed that image.

Then there’s the Wistful Palate Effect. The longer it’s been since you experienced something, the better it seems.

I say all this to back up my opinion that Jim’s, for all its fame, was never one of the great places to eat fried chicken in New Orleans. But it comes up so often on the radio show that I had to include it in this book.

On the other hand, Jim’s wasn’t bad. The crust was in fact one of the better ones. I think it was made with cracker meal. It wasn’t seasoned especially well (I wonder how palates used to Popeyes would like it), and sometimes it was a touch soggy.

What I know for a fact is that it was fried to order–a mark of quality in fried chicken. After getting off one 1971 midnight from the Time Saver, a coworker and I couldn’t agree about where to have a late-night supper. I went to Ye Olde College Inn, and he went to Jim’s, a block away. I ordered, ate, read the newspaper, paid, and left. My friend’s car was in front of Jim’s, so I pulled in. He was still waiting for the chicken. Fried chicken takes time.

Jim’s big old original restaurant closed in the late 1970s. It was torn down and replaced with–ironically–a Popeyes. The family reopened in a small space on Airline Highway in Kenner, with the big red sign hanging in front. It continued to cook the same fried chicken for a few more years, then faded away. I hear the sign has made it to Jim’s Feed Store on LA 41 in Pearl River.


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  1. jake on March 1, 2014

    where can you get the recipe for jim’s fried chicken

    • Tom Fitzmorris on March 1, 2014

      It’s a secret. . . I’ve never seen it published, and I had the owner on the radio once and he wouldn’t tell. I think it was coated wit cracker meal. And was one of the most overrated dishes in the history of New Orleans restaurants.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

    • Vicki La Rocca Welch on December 29, 2014

      Only my brother and I know. It was my dads family restaurant. My grandfather Jim started it and my father took it over.

      • Tom Fitzmorris on December 30, 2014

        What good does it do anybody to know a recipe that many people like, but not operating a restaurant where it can be had? You ought to let this loose. It would make a lot of people happy.

        Tastefully yours,
        Tom Fitzmorris

  2. FRANK GAGLIANO on March 31, 2014

    Tom,

    Having eaten at Jim’s countless times, often at three or four in the morning after a night of New Orleans’ debauchery, I can tell you firsthand that Jim’s is fondly remembered for good reason. In it’s time, its fried chicken was great.

    No, it was not spicy like Popeyes’, but it had a crust that I have never experienced anywhere else; I can’t stop thinking about it all these years later. Jim’s was immensely popular, long waits were common, waitresses were mainstays with decades of service. It was as New Orleans as New Orleans gets.

    My foodie credentials and my expertise with fried chicken developed as a result of working at THREE fried chicken chains while in high school in New Orleans in the late 60s. Plantation Fried Chicken on Lakeshore Dr., Chicken Delight on Argonne Blvd. in Lakeview, and KFC uptown on Magazine…. I know my fried chicken.

    One day in 1972, we say a long line outside a new Popeyes store on Vets., we stopped and purchased two eighty-nine cent dinners consisting of two pieces of chicken, fries, and a dinner roll. I will never forget my first bite sitting in the front seat of my friends 1965 Mustang… I was blown away, my mouth on fire. The intensity of the flavors, the crispiness, the juiciness, the spiciness, was overwhelming… I was hooked at first bite. I never thought of Jim’s the same again.

    Yes, we still preferred Jim’s as a late night haunt, it had a great pinball machine and a lounge with cold beer and an incredible jukebox, but there was a reason why people were standing in line at Popeyes stores all over New Orleans… Damn, that chicken was SPICY!

    By the way, in 1986, I twice tried the Jim’s on Airline in Kenner only to be bitterly disappointed. The magic crust was gone, nothing but a simple flour crust absent any seasoning coated the bland chicken. As you can imagine, I never went back.

    A love affair that began as a toddler sitting on my mom’s lap anxiously awaiting three crispy pieces of fried chicken on toast points with pickle slices for seventy-five cents, had come to its end. But all this stated, Jim’s will always be one of my favorite New Orleans restaurants.

  3. Dave on May 12, 2014

    My father said something about this place having the best lobster thermidor in the world. I asked him why a chicken joint would have lobster thermidor, but he swears they had it. Maybe he’s mixing it up with another place?

    • Tom Fitzmorris on May 12, 2014

      It’s possible, but I suspect he got Jim’s mixed up with T. Pittari’s. The thermidor part was no big deal, but lobsters were very uncommon around New Orleans in those days.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

  4. BILL on December 12, 2014

    DOES ANYONE HAVE THE ORIGIONAL JIM’S FRIED CHICKEN RECIPE?

    • Tom Fitzmorris on December 15, 2014

      Don’t know why you’d want it, but my research seems to point to cracker meal as having been the main component of the crust. I never thought much of the place.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

  5. Kevin McKay on December 23, 2014

    Tom

    I agree with the above writer. I do not know if it would be the best to me today(taste buds change
    But when I ate there last I was very young maybe 16 or 17, and back then it was the best.
    I would say Rockery in was next.
    How old we’re u the last time u ate there?

    • Tom Fitzmorris on December 27, 2014

      The first time I ate at Jim’s, I was in my mid to late teens. The last time was in the mid 1970s, when I wrote an article in the Courier newspaper about it and the old Ye Olde College Inn, which I wasn’t nuts about, either.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

  6. jermaine on July 24, 2015

    Does anyone have an old picture of Jims? I was very young when Jims was there and I can’t remember how it looked…

  7. Leon Reiss on July 27, 2015

    The closest I’ve come to Jim’s chicken is at Mr Eds off Causeway(old Bozo’s)I’m sure you’ve tried it. Also Mr Eds in Kenner(Chateau Blvd.)

  8. sandie on August 31, 2015

    I went to college in New Orleans and loved Jim’s. It was the only place I could get a plate full of wings which was my favorite. Planning to visit next month and was making a list of restaurants and ran across this thread. I liked the fact that it was not spicy. And we had many a plate delivered to the dorm by Chicken Delight as well.

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