It has come to my attention that the president of Church’s Fried Chicken apologized to the entire city of Nashville for its poor customer service after taking over 23 Mrs. Winner’s locations. They shut down all the stores for a period of time in early March to train their employees.
But that’s really not the only problem. I can say this with some confidence as I was – and am – a Mrs. Winner’s devotee. I used to frequent Mrs. Winner’s almost every morning for a “light” sausage biscuit. This is the level of customer service I enjoyed. The nice ladies at my Mrs. Winner’s – and they were all ladies – knew the difference between a “dark” biscuit, one that has a deep brown exterior – and a “light” biscuit, whose appearance is blond. All I had to do was enter the store and my light sausage biscuit was on the counter waiting.
But the deeper problem, which Mr. John Bowie of Church’s is apparently unaware of, is that their chicken isn’t very good. Anytime you have a fried chicken franchise that shares space with White Castle, you know you have issues. After Church’s took over the Mrs. Winner’s spaces, my colleague Betsy took advantage of a generous coupon offer designed to lure former Mrs. Winner’s customers to Church’s. “How was the chicken?” I asked her. “Nasty,” she said. I remember that distinctly.
It is possible that substandard fried chicken is acceptable in places like Akron, Ohio, or Peoria, Illinois, but it is not allowed in the South. Even if you discount the tremendous local fried chicken palaces like the Loveless or Monell’s, you still have to trump Kentucky Fried Chicken or Popeye’s. I can tell you with certainty that there is a very well-respected chef in Nashville who, on his day off, heads right to Popeye’s for its chicken.
So, Mr. Bowie, thank you for your apology. It takes some pretty huge, well you know, to apologize to 570,835 people for poor customer service. But I can tell you that your employees can be as snarky as they want if only they would bring the goods.