Great American Chicken Co. creating a niche in OC

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Great American Chicken Company owner Chris Pirone shows off his skinless fried chicken and deep fried pickles, the restaurant’s staple dishes. Great American Chicken Company owner Chris Pirone shows off his skinless fried chicken and deep fried pickles, the restaurant’s staple dishes. OCEAN CITY — Looking for comfort food? The Great American Chicken Company at Eighth and Ocean is serving up fried chicken with a twist.

Owner Chris Pirone has been doing chicken a long time. In fact, this is not the first Great American Chicken Company, and if Pirone gets his way, it won’t be the last either. Pirone started out in Hillsboro in 1994 with an alternative to Boston Market’s rotisserie: fried skinless chicken.

“You always want to have something that no one else has,” he said, noting that startup wasn’t easy.

In 2004, Pirone opened up his Great American Chicken Company in Arizona while living out west.

“Our whole philosophy on everything was geared more toward the healthy.

“It was a market that’s really not there right now and in Ocean City, there’s none,” he said.

Pirone has lived in Ocean City for the last three years and said, since he moved to the island, has been looking for the perfect place to open up his next chicken venture. When he found it, he got right to work.

“We redid this whole place. Anything and everything that needed to be redone was redone,” he said. “I would like to have five restaurants in five years going from Cape May to here.”

The atmosphere is airy and relaxed with back and front dining rooms painted blue, and red tablecloths. Windows on both sides of the corner restaurant allow for a view out into the city. The counter sits in between, where customers are encouraged to order at the window and the food will be served to them at their table. Pirone said this helps to keep costs down.

One of his signature dishes, Pirone said, is the Malibu chicken sandwich, crispy chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, smoked ham, American cheese and teriyaki sauce topped with a slice of fresh pineapple, with a beverage for $6.49.

“Wraps are big right now. We try to keep the bad out and keep all the good in,” Pirone said. The chicken Caesar wrap is made with 5 ounces of breast meat.

Great American Chicken Company claims it is the “home of the deep fried pickle.”

“I did a lot of research on products that sell and when I was going my research I realized that no one around here sells them,” Pirone said.

At least they don’t make them they way he does, sliced dill pickles lightly beer battered and deep fried, then served with homemade Dijonnaise – a blend of mayo and Dijon with a variety of other special ingredients including lemon, onion and garlic.

“I throw a spin on every single thing I make homemade,” Pirone said.

The coleslaw, which is also made in house, is not just a mayo or vinegar base, but a combination, making it unique, he said. But it’s not as unique as the chicken, Pirone’s signature dish.

“The skinless fried chicken, it’s really catching everyone’s eye,” he said.

Pirone said people often assume from the appearance of the batter, that there is skin underneath; then he “drops the bomb on them.”

“That is my breading procedure,” he said, which creates a false skin so crispy it is mistakable for the real thing.

“It keeps all the natural juices in the chicken,” Pirone said.

The chicken is open-fried in canola oil at a lower temperature, but longer amount of time, he said. It is served as a combo meal with a small side, beverage and buttermilk biscuit or a dinner meal for the whole family. Sides include slaw, smashed potatoes, barbecue baked beans and skin-on fries. The combos are all under $9 and dinner meals all under $30.

“Our whole thing was, people that come to Ocean City, I want them to feel if they come into my store, they can feed a family of four for under $30,” Pirone said.

He is trying his hand at the classic Philadelphia cheesesteak, as well.

“We do cheesesteaks also, only because down here, you’ve got to have something for everyone,” he said.

Pirone said he wants it to taste like it came from Pat’s or Geno’s, so he is using Liscio’s bread, thinly sliced rib eye steak, and offering the steaks with ’wiz or American cheese and wit’ or wit’out onions.

“Anybody can serve a cheesesteak, but if you use the right product, you’re going to have a great product,” Pirone said.

Wednesday and Thursdays are pulled pork days. Pirone slow roasts a 20-pound pork loin for over five hours in homemade barbecue sauce that includes the house-made hot sauce and honey. The pork is served as a sandwich or a wrap with raw onions and cheddar cheese. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for the week.

On Mondays, the same goes for the chicken salad.

“I only make it fresh. Once I sell it and it’s gone, it’s gone,” he said.

As a special, the Great American Chicken Company is running an all-you-can-eat Fish Fry though May 25 that includes panko breaded flounder, fries and coleslaw for $7.99.

A full menu is available online at www.greatamericanchickencompany.com.

The Great American Chicken Company at 621 Eighth Street is open for dine-in or take out, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. in the winter and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. in the summer. Call 545-8679.

  The four-piece skinless fried chicken meal with baked beans and a biscuit. The four-piece skinless fried chicken meal with baked beans and a biscuit. The shrimp po’boy, deep fried pickles and house salad are few customer favorites at the Great American Chicken Company. The shrimp po’boy, deep fried pickles and house salad are few customer favorites at the Great American Chicken Company.


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