A lot of folks at church had talked about a place called “Champy’s” on MLK Blvd. and I wanted to stop in for a visit. I wasn’t sure what it was - I thought maybe a hamburger or sandwich joint. I entered a covered porch area outside where they had plenty of tables with picnic-style table cloths. I wanted to see if they had an inside, so I went through another door and saw the inside which was a little dark and I could smell hot grease cooking up something. It was a pretty day so I went back outside and found a seat.
I saw these little young waitresses (even younger than my granddaughter) sporting tank tops and shorts. I wondered if I were in a Hooter’s type of place. I didn’t know girls that young could swing their hips like that when they walked. I remember swinging my hips like that many moons ago, but I was much older. The ball team from McCallie didn’t seem to mind. I try not to be too old-fashioned so I just minded my own business.
I was given a menu and saw that they had fried chicken. I looked at all the dinners on the menu and they were …fried chicken. I decided on the fried chicken. But the smallest platter I saw was for a two-piece chicken dinner for $7.35 with baked beans, slaw and white bread. I knew I didn’t want two pieces, but the second piece was a wing so I didn’t mind if I left that on the plate. They had a few appetizers, sides and a catfish dinner listed but it was clear that this place was all about chicken – it took up the whole menu and I wanted to know why.
I got a little excited thinking maybe they had some secret about chicken when they claimed to be the best chicken in Chattanooga and even say they are “famous”. Aside from the traffic going by, this was a pretty nifty place! They played some funky blues music and it made me feel a little funky too.
My meal was brought to me on a paper plate with plastic utensils. I wondered if it was because I was eating outside in the picnic area or if that is how they serve their food all the time. I first dug into the slaw. I will tell you with all honesty - it was the absolute best slaw I have ever tasted (even over my own mother’s)! The cut was just right, the vinegar and the crunch … it was just so flavorful! I wanted the recipe. I had taken three bites before even trying anything else!
The baked beans were interesting, nothing spectacular but with added kidney beans, onion and they weren’t too sweet. I was ready to try the golden brown fried chicken that looked crispy but tender. I wasn’t sure how to eat it. I used my fork but the flimsy plastic fork was not strong enough to pull the chicken apart so I cut into it with the plastic knife. I would have been there all day if I ate it that way, so I did what most Southerners do – I picked it up and ate it with my hands. It was steaming hot and juicy. The breading was perfectly seasoned and I was overjoyed when I tasted a little kick! They must have put a lot of pepper in the breading or some sort of spice that gave it a little more flavor. It wasn’t overpowering but just right. They were clearly the champions of chicken!
Now, for the “white bread” they placed on the plate – they could have kept that. A plain piece of white bread was a little too boring to be sitting next to that marvelous chicken.
I didn’t eat the second piece of chicken but I sure ate the whole breast (I didn’t suck the bones though, like my son Jack would have). I saw they had Mississippi Mud Pie for $3.25. I wanted to try that.
The appearance didn’t look like anything I had ever seen before when ordering Mississippi Mud Pie, but I thought maybe they had a secret to their pie too. The texture was that of pecan pie filling. The flavor was not agreeable to me. It tasted like the chocolate was overcooked and it was a little too sweet.
Oh alright, so they don’t win the Mississippi Mud Pie contest but they have the best slaw around and they are the Chattanooga Chicken Champions! They even have catering. I loved this place and Willie Mae will be back!