Photo of the Month

King Chicken Restaurant

King Chicken Restaurant, Fayetteville, January 1959. Arlis Wayne "Sarge" Hulse, King Chicken's cook, makes rolls while waitress Bonnie Hoskins Capwell Brooks serves up orders. Bonnie worked at King Chicken in the late 1950s-early 1960s. She went to work at the restaurant three days after her son was born. She worked there for about four years, until the birth of her daughter. Mr. Schmidt allowed Bonnie to wait tables until she "started showing pretty well" in her pregnancy. Then he let her work in the kitchen for as long as she was able.

All the food was made from scratch. Mr. Schmidt himself made breading for chicken and whole rainbow trout, rolls, barbecue sauce, and praline candy. The pralines were sold at the cash register. Plates of food were served on trays with doilies under the plates, and people just left the plates on the trays. Waitresses bussed their own tables, removing the trays before bringing out dessert. Waitresses worked for minimum wage plus tips; at the time Bonnie worked there you didn't have to report your tips as income earned.

The restaurant, which was located on College Avenue, was open from 6 am to 10 pm. The north wing of the restaurant was a private dining room. Center area was the coffee shop. South wing was the main dining room. Kitchen was behind the coffee shop and north wing. The floors looked like hardwood, but weren't.

Mr. Schmidt demanded the restaurant be kept very clean. Waitresses had to keep their hair pulled back away from their face, and were required to wear starched uniforms. Schmidt paid to have the uniforms laundered and starched. Bonnie had one uniform with a "Chinese collar" (upright collar) and the collar had so much starch, it rubbed her neck raw. If a waitress sat down in her uniform and wrinkled it, Schmidt wouldn't let her wait tables any more that day. Waitresses brought a change of clothes to wear during breaks or when they went to the bathroom.

Many travelers and tourists ate at King Chicken. Gov. Orval Faubus ate there on several occasions, accompanied by former Washington County sheriff Kenneth McKee, who at that time was the state trooper assigned to Faubus. Ray Watson Collection (S-2002-50-806)

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