WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – It’s an end of an era for one historic chicken spot after it decided to shut its doors for the last time at the beginning of April.
Maryland Fried Chicken, located in Winter Garden on West Colonial Drive, shut down Saturday. Lines of people were spotted with each person looking to get the last bit of famous chicken.
“Well, my wife, I had forgotten, my wife texted me saying you got to go by Maryland Fried, you know it’s April 1, and it’s not an April Fools’ joke,” Mike Plante said.
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News 6 was there as the chicken joint closed down the drive-thru and rang up its very last customer.
“We sold out... of everything,” said the cashier who had to wave off other people still trying to get in.
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“A little bit of Winter Garden is gone,” Plante said. “You know it’s been here a long-time.”
Plante tells News 6 he has been here since the restaurant’s early days, saying it became a staple in town. Since 1966, the fried chicken shop gained loyal customers over its 57-year run – customers like Plante.
“You know it’s kind of depressing, you know might lose some weight now, you know it was kind of my Sunday fix,” he said,
The loss of the historic eatery affecting staff, many have been working at the restaurant for years.
Jessica Whigham, a shift-manager at Maryland Fried Chicken, said, “Like my cashiers that I work with are like my sisters. My mom is the general manager – everyone calls her mom – this place has been family, our customers are like family and it’s going to be really sad.”
Whigham says they’ve been three times busier since announcing they were closing. She said, “We had customers lined up around the Culver’s building and around 50.”
The long-time shift manager says the store decided to shut down after it was sold during the height of the Covid-pandemic.
“I think it might’ve been a little overwhelming for everyone, you know the places where we get our food from and you know everyone here,” Whigham said.
Plante says while people may be saddened by the restaurant’s closing, it does make way for progress saying, that Winter Garden is growing in leaps and bounds.
“Sometimes people don’t like change, so with progress hopefully it’s all for the best,” Plante said.
For Whigham, she says going forward, she wanted to leave this message, she said, “We’re sorry, we love our customers, and we love our community... this is not goodbye, ok, this is we will see you later.”