Watch Live at Five at Four on Thursday for a peak inside the kitchen at Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken.
Lunch or dinner, the smell of fried chicken lures diners in the door at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in West Knoxville.
Chicken breasts, legs, tenders - whatever you prefer on your plate.
Napoleon “Na” Vanderbilt is to thank.
“He’s the one in Mason, Tennessee over 60 years ago that came up with this recipe. They would give you a piece of chicken on a Styrofoam plate with beans, slaw and some white bread,” recalls Philip Sampietro, the Knoxville franchise owner. “His son, Gus Bonner, kind of took everything over and that’s where Gus’s World Famous came from.”
To date, Gus’s is in 17 locations from Los Angeles to Chicago. The Knoxville location on Southerland Avenue opened in September 2016.
But Sampietro doesn’t think of it as a chain.
“We’re not going to be on every corner, we’re going to be a destination," he said.
The vibe is casual comfort with a homey feel.
“If you’ll notice, all the table cloths are mismatched,” said Sampietro. “I mean we’re trying to mimic a shack in Mason, Tennessee.”
Every bite is truly handmade. Gus’s cares how it looks and of course, how it tastes. The chicken does have a little bite to it.
“I’d say on a scale from 1 to 10 we’re maybe a 5 or a 6, so we’re nothing crazy," Sampietro said.
But, he said, sweet and savory Southern staples cool it down.
“We serve it with beans, slaw, fried okra, fried green tomatoes and fried pickles. And, we’ve got some wonderful desserts - chocolate chess pie, pecan pie, sweet potato pie, coconut pie, and it’s all made here in our kitchen," he said.
But there’s one thing you won't find at Gus’s.
“Nothing fat free,” laughs Sampietro. “We want you to leave with a full belly and a smile on your face.”
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is located off Sutherland Avenue in West Knoxville.