Golden Fried Since 1965
Hal Guthrie graduated from Auburn University in 1963. After a couple of years of diversified employment, he opened a drive-in restaurant in Haleyville, Alabama, just 30 miles north of his hometown of Jasper. This was the beginning of Guthrie's Restaurants. Over the next 18 years, Guthrie's served a wide variety of food — hamburgers, hamburger steaks, steak sandwiches, fried chicken, barbecue, fish sandwiches, salads and even ice cream all graced the menu at one time or another. Fried shrimp even called Guthrie's home for a time.
However, in 1978, Hal came into his restaurant and announced to his wife, Melissa, and four children that they were going to begin serving chicken fingers. He knew it would be necessary to have the best sauce available to accompany his unique chicken finger breading blend, and began his search for the most delicious chicken finger sauce he could find. Little did he know that he'd find that sauce in his own kitchen, concocted by one of his children.
Chicken fingers accounted for only a small portion of Guthrie's sales when they were first introduced. But once customers got a taste of Guthrie's Golden Fried Chicken Fingers, there was no turning back. They were hooked!
Sauce Invented by Kids
Guthrie's Signature Sauce began unlike most sauces. When founder Hal Guthrie made the decision to serve only chicken fingers, he didn't go to a chef to create the sauce. He went to his younger children, Hud, Joe Kelly, and Anna Margaret. They happened to be with Hal that day, and he instructed them to come up with a chicken finger sauce. They mixed ingredients and created a variety of experimental sauces, but Hud came out the winner. The moment Hal tasted the sauce Hud had created, he knew it was destined to be famous. And he was right!
Focus on the Finger
In 1982, Chris Guthrie, Melissa and Hal's oldest son, was a student at Auburn University. He talked Hal into coming to Auburn to help start a Guthrie's restaurant. After renovating an existing building, Chris and Hal realized that some items would have to be eliminated because of the small space of the building. They pared down the large menu to just hamburgers, steak sandwiches and chicken fingers. But it wouldn't be long before the burgers and steak sandwiches were cut from the menu, thanks to the overwhelming popularity of the Chicken Finger Box. This increased speed and efficiency in the kitchen.
Guthrie's was the extremely popular go-to restaurant for college kids in the '80s, and the brand began to flourish from there. Chris opened stores in Athens, Georgia, and Tallahassee, Florida; Hal opened in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Hud and Joe Kelley opened in Birmingham, Alabama, and Auburn, Alabama; Anna Margaret opened in Jasper, Alabama, and a new location in Haleyville, Alabama. Everybody was falling hard for those Golden Fried Chicken Fingers, crispy fries, buttery Texas Toast, creamy cole slaw and, of course, the Signature Sauce. At this time, Guthrie's was pretty much a Southeastern household name. Students and people from all walks of life were beginning to crave the Guthrie's taste.
50 Plus Years in Business
And now, more than half a century later, Guthrie's continues to be a restaurant— and family— institution. We are blessed to have had our family business grow over the past 50 years and are looking forward to serving the rest of the country for years to come. A third generation of Guthrie family members are now opening their own Guthrie's restaurants and becoming involved in the Guthrie's business. Additionally, our franchise business is steadily growing, giving people all across the U.S. a taste for our Golden Fried Chicken Fingers.