Why Did The Rooster Cross The Road? To Get To A Chicken Restaurant

Apr 16, 2012
Originally published on April 16, 2012 5:12 pm

Thank goodness he doesn't know what's going on inside.

Candice Ludlow of member station WKNO today helps All Things Considered ketchup ... er catch up ... on a story that's been cooking for a week or so in Tennessee.

It seems that a big red rooster has been hanging out in front of a restaurant in Collierville, Tenn., for the past few months.

But it's not just any restaurant.

It's called Gus's Fried Chicken, as Memphis' The Commercial Appeal reported earlier this month. And, yes, the rooster has to cross the road to get there.

Candice reports that restaurant owner Mathew McCrory says since the bird started showing up, business has picked up: "You know, we've got a little bit of publication out of him, a little press with him hanging out here. Customers always come in and try to take pictures of him. He's been good for business he's been good. We call him Gus."

WREG-TV from Memphis also checked out the story last week. It has video of Gus (a.k.a. Big Red).

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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

In a weak economy, drumming up business can be a daily challenge, but one small restaurant outside of Memphis is getting some help. It's not a new entrée or a special to lure in customers.

Candice Ludlow of member station WKNO reports on how an unlikely neighborhood character has given business a boost.

CANDICE LUDLOW, BYLINE: Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken is the kind of place where locals flock for tasty food.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Two breasts for me, bro.

LUDLOW: Gus's is tucked into a two-story Victorian in the historic part of Collierville. Across the street is a law office, an investment company and an open field.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROOSTER CROWING)

LUDLOW: Yup, that's a rooster, a rust-colored rooster with black tail feathers. He's a meaty little fellow and apparently doesn't mind tempting fate. On some days, he leaves the field and crosses the road to peck and scratch in front of the chicken restaurant. He seems to like hanging out by the door.

Owner Matthew McCrory says the rooster started doing this a few months ago, and in a weird twist, business has picked up since the rooster landed in his neighborhood.

MATHEW MCCRORY: You know, we've got a little bit of publication out of him. We've got a little press out of him hanging around here. Customers always come in and try to take pictures of him. And he's been good for business. He's been good. We call him Gus.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LUDLOW: McCrory says Gus just showed up one day when he was out of town. One of his food reps snapped a photo, and since then, the story has taken off as word about the restaurant's unofficial plucky mascot has circulated.

MCCRORY: The funniest part is watching all of our customers - or not all of them, but a lot of our customers - get up, walk out across the street and try to snap pictures of this rooster walking around in the neighbor's yard.

LUDLOW: During a busy lunchtime on a recent weekday, Mark Lawrence and a friend were finishing up their meal of fried chicken.

MARK LAWRENCE: We actually came to see him today, but we haven't seen him yet.

LUDLOW: Ron Braxton had just finished up his meal. He says he comes to eat here at least once a week, and sometimes he gets worried when he doesn't see Gus on his way in.

RON BRAXTON: When you couldn't find him at first, I was wondering, was I eating him? And if I was, he died a hero because he was very tasty.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LUDLOW: Linda Cross works down the street. She doesn't eat at Gus's all that often, but she does think it's ironic that a rooster hangs out near a restaurant that serves chicken.

LINDA CROSS: I see him every afternoon, pecking along back and forth on the corner.

LUDLOW: What does it do?

CROSS: Just hanging out.

LUDLOW: Just hanging out. Do you think it's coming over here for chicken or...

CROSS: I don't know. He may be protesting. I don't know.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LUDLOW: Protesting or not, lucky for Gus, free-range chicken isn't on the menu. For NPR News, I'm Candice Ludlow in Memphis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.