A sign hangs on the wall at Fran’s Chicken Haven in Boca Raton that pretty much says it all: “If the colonel had our recipe, he’d be a general.”
Originally opened in 1964 by Fran and Joe Gerace, today the restaurant, tucked into a shopping plaza off Federal Highway just north of Glades Road, is owned and operated by Boca Raton native Chris Stuart, who remembers eating there as a child with his father, who, at one time, delivered the Geraces their bread.
Over the years, the eatery has changed hands several times, each new owner giving the fried chicken his own signature twist.
"They wanted to give the place their own stamp, but it never really worked," said Stuart, who purchased the business in 2013 and immediately revived the Geraces' original fried chicken recipe. "For me, it was an easy decision. If it's not broke, don't fix it."
Today, Stuart stands as the only operator since the founding owners to use Fran's famous, sugar-sweetened batter — a top-secret blend of spices and flour fried-to-order and offering the perfect crisp thanks to a properly-timed dunk in the Canola-oil-filled, temperature-controlled fryers.
That’s not to say that some things haven't changed. The menu once served nothing but fried chicken paired with a soft bread bun and a side of coleslaw or fries. In the past few years, Stuart has added a number of new menu items, including side dishes like his own homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, prepared daily.
If you’re extra hungry, try the fried chicken and waffles, an oversized Belgian waffle (regular or chocolate) served with a chicken thigh and leg (or any meat combo of your choice for an extra charge) and topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream, and maple syrup. Try Stuart's specialty, the caramel apple take. The dish comes out half-dinner, half-dessert: a jumbo Belgian waffle topped with warm apple compote and caramel sauce and finished with whipped cream, butterscotch drizzle, and a dash of cinnamon.
For a different type of dessert, follow up with some more fried food — and Fran's Chicken Haven on Instagram. Show the staff you're a fan while you're at the restaurant and it will score you a complimentary deep-fried Oreo. Still, nothing quite beats the sweet taste of Fran’s fried chicken, available by the bucket or any combination of thigh, wing, leg, and breast.
Fran’s Chicken Haven is located at 1925 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton. Call 561-395-0781, or visit franschickenhaven.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.