Great American Chicken Co. comes to OC

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Originator of skinless fried poultry has something to cluck about

Chris Pirone, owner of the Great American Chicken Co., says what separates his chicken from his competitors is his use of skinless chicken pieces. Chris Pirone, owner of the Great American Chicken Co., says what separates his chicken from his competitors is his use of skinless chicken pieces.

OCEAN CITY — Most people who settle here do so because they have sand in their shoes. Chris Pirone says he has “chicken in the blood.”

 

“It’s bred into me,” he says of his lifelong experience in the restaurant industry.

His Great American Chicken Co., which opened on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Eighth Street on Feb. 24, is his third such venture. The first, in 1994, was in Hillsboro, and the second was in Sun City, Ariz. He and his wife, Christine, sold the western location three years ago and moved to Ocean City so that she could be closer to her ailing father.

The Pirones, high school sweethearts who grew up together in Bridgewater, think their chicken concept is a smart fit for family-friendly Ocean City. The price point is attractive – $27.99 for 16 pieces of skinless fried chicken, Cajun or regular with two large side dishes and six buttermilk biscuits. And the building, which was home to a series of failed food operations in the last decade, looks immaculate.

“I opened this restaurant because I wanted families to be able to eat dinner together for a reasonable price,” Pirone said. “Where else can you spend $30 and feed a family?”

In addition to skinning all the chicken he serves, Pirone hand-breads it and then uses an open fryer to cook it. Pressure cooking, he said, only serves to force the oil into the meat and does nothing to enhance flavor. His breading process, he said, ensures the exterior of the chicken will be crispy and the interior meat moist.

For those who won’t cross the street to eat chicken, the restaurant’s menu offers seafood selections; sandwiches including po’ boys, wraps and classic Philly cheese steaks made of top round steak, served on a soft Philly roll; and salads. Everything, including dressings and sauces, is homemade, Pirone said.

The Great American Chicken Co. also gives customers something to cluck about with its deep-fried pickles. An offbeat munchie that originated in the South, the deep-fried pickle has reached Ocean City courtesy of Pirone, who serves it with a Dijonaise dip.

Restaurant hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily in the winter, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. in the summer. Call 545-8679.

 

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