When Fran's Chicken Haven (1925 NW Federal Hwy., Boca Raton, 561-395-0781) closed last April, fans of her famous fried chicken could find no solace at Publix, Popeye's, or KFC: That would be like losing Jennifer Lopez and rebounding with Christine Whitman. Then Stacey Haywurst-Fuentes bought the rights and recipes for the little ten-seat café and take-out, renovated and redecorated it in bright yellow and red, and reopened it sans Fran, whose fans are happy once again -- after all, it's the chicken they missed. What's the secret to the crunchy birds? Well, for one thing, Fran's uses broilers or roasting chickens, which are bigger and juicier than more commonly used fryers. The café's chickens are also scalded before getting dipped and fried. Dipped in what? Employees won't say, but grab a seat at the counter, peer into the open kitchen, and you can pretty much see for yourself. Half a roaster (four pieces) with coleslaw, fries, and a biscuit costs $6.95; that's plenty to eat, but the smashed candied yams and collard greens are worth ordering as extras just the same.

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