A-frame buildings tend to stand out to me just because they are not too common around Mississippi, or anywhere else for that matter. The term A-frame comes from the shape of the structure, where the roof extends down steeply on both sides of a central ridge, almost all the way to the ground.
I’ve been fond of a little A-frame building on 14th Street in Pascagoula. It looked like a former restaurant and a few years ago I snapped a photo and didn’t think much of it after that. It wasn’t until this past summer that I saw another A-frame in McComb that was eerily similar and wondered if there was potential for a “twins” post. The buildings are a little different but their overall form is the same: an A-frame with an antechamber topped with a hipped roof that creates a pleasing, if somewhat unique, gable-on-hip appearance.
I wasn’t having much luck with what business linked these unique buildings together until I found an ad and an article remarking on a grand opening in a 1969 Hattiesburg American. Bingo! Does anyone remember Chicken Chef restaurants?
Even more intriguing is the fact that Chicken Chef chain was based in Mississippi and grew rapidly. According to Chicken Chef press releases there were 100 franchise locations in nine states which included five locations in Jackson alone. I was hoping to find a Mississippi architect who designed these buildings but so far I’ve hadn’t had any luck. The chain lasted less than three years before the stock IPO tanked, dropping 51% in June of 1969, the first month of offering. In 1971 some of the restaurants briefly became a Shannon’s Food Shoppe but that didn’t last long either. As far as I know, after this the buildings all went their separate ways. I’ve seen a few of these Chicken Chef A-frames scattered across the state.
Greenville. This is the only structure for which I found documentation for the construction. A building permit for the $29,000 restaurant was issued to Greenville developer Walter Roman sometime between March 27 and April 15 1969.
There were Chicken Chef’s in Laurel and Gulfport but they both appear to have been demolished c.2007. Biloxi had a Chicken Chef but I don’t believe it was located in one of the brand’s signature A-frame buildings. One Chicken Chef holdout appears in McMinnville, Tennessee that still uses the name and even the red and yellow color scheme.
Incidentally the Pascagoula Chicken Chef structure also recently received a yellow and red paint scheme again.
Endnote: “We’re not talking about a drop from an initial offering price of 12 to 11 but things like Chicken Chef System’s drop from 14 3/8 to 7 (51 per cent)” Let’s Take Stock; Magic Word Must Ease Pain of Burn Don G. Campbell page 97 Arizona Republic August 16, 1969
The hipped roof on the front facade has been removed, making this Chicken Chef a little more difficult to verify. It does bring to our attention the fact that the hipped roof on the front facade is a front porch rather than covering any part of the enclosed building.