Guthrie's owner Will Garrett still remembers his first taste of the small restaurant chain's mouthwatering golden fried chicken fingers. Soon, Catoosa County residents will have the same opportunity; Garrett and partner Grady Williams Jr. are opening a location in Ringgold March 1.
"We believe we have the best chicken fingers in the South. Guthrie's was doing chicken fingers first," Garrett said. "I've eaten a lot of chicken fingers and it's hard to beat. It's marinated over a period of time and seasoned with special breading. The breading and signature dipping sauce were made for one another."
Williams said cooks arrive at least one hour before opening to begin preparing chicken fingers which are cooked fresh to order.
"Once customers try it, they will be hooked," he said. "We sell plates and boxes to go."
He and Garrett agree that the signature sauce is popular. People often order extra sauce, they said.
Once the Ringgold store is in full swing operation, catering for parties and tailgating will be available.
Garrett and Williams also operate a location on Signal Mountain and in Trenton, but said they expect the new store to be the best one yet due to the close proximity to the interstate.
"We are glad to be a part of the rebuilding of Ringgold," said Garrett. "We are community-minded. We want to give good, hot food with a smile to customers."
He said many people remember Guthrie's chicken from their college days because the restaurant can be found in college towns near the campuses of the University of Auburn, University of Alabama, University of Georgia, University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Clemson University.
Garrett got his first taste in Tuscaloosa and has been hooked ever since, he said. He has formed a personal relationship with the family of founder Hal Guthrie, who started cooking chicken fingers in the early 1960s. Garrett doesn't just eat with the family, he has cooked with them too. He worked atop Lookout Mountain with the family at a former Guthrie's store and at a satellite store at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to train to open his own stores.
"Everyone in Ringgold has been really helpful and welcoming," said Garrett. "We look forward to opening the store in Ringgold."