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Leslie’s Chicken Shack

September 12th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Leslie's pc

Leslie’s originated in Waco, and that location seems to be famous for being the place where Billy Joe Shaver’s mom was a waitress. The first mention I find of Leslie’s in Dallas is 1939, when the Dallas Morning News mentioned it in a “Where to Go When You Eat” column. This postcard is from a few years later, when there were a whopping 9 locations around Texas. Leslie’s was at 2700 Ft. Worth Avenue, which would have put it almost directly across the street from Roth’s Cafe.

Leslie’s is listed in the Dallas phone book for 1951 but not for 1957. The site is now an empty lot.

leslie thumbnailGo here for a larger view of the building illustration from the postcard.

To see a larger view of this old sign now residing in the back lot of the Green Fiber plant in Waco go here and here.

Update – Jan 15, 2013:   A 1992 news item from The Victoria Advocate says Leslie’s opened April 1, 1934.

  1. Ann Yancey
    January 15th, 2013 at 06:57 | #1

    Leslie Strange was my grandmother’s brother. Her name was Ollie Stange Gravette. She and her husband, Edgar Bruce Gravette, left Waco and, eventually, landed in Red Bluff, CA. Leslie came to work for her in Red Bluff during the depression at the original Chicken Shack. He took the recipe back to Texas and built his legacy.

  2. marcia
    January 15th, 2013 at 17:16 | #2

    Ann, thank you! Your comment helped me find a new link which I’m adding to the blurb about the chicken shack.

  3. Ross Shirah
    February 25th, 2013 at 19:04 | #3

    Has anyone thought about entering an article on Leslie’s Chicken Shack in Wikipedia? A restaurant with such good food should be noted in Wikipedia so that its readers will know about it. It is a shame Leslie’s is not around anymore. I remember eating there as a young lad and I loved it. They had the best fried chicken of any resdaurant I know of and these fast food places of today cannot ompare to Leslie’s!

  4. Jennifer
    February 26th, 2013 at 05:50 | #4

    My grandfather was Barrett Smith. He owned the Waco location. The restaurant closed in 1996. I miss it so. Wished I could reopen it!! I have lots of great childhood memories there. @Ann Yancey

  5. Marsha Abelman
    March 20th, 2013 at 22:11 | #5

    Hi, Ann Yancey,
    I grew up in Waco and had a good friend at my first job named Randy Smith, married to Chicken Smith. I know they divorced and she remarried, but her other married name is hard to find, too. I’m hoping (hoping, hoping) that you are related to her first husband and son (Trey) and can put me in touch with her.
    Thanks, Marsha Whittington Abelman (now of Portland, OR)

  6. Marsha Abelman
    March 20th, 2013 at 22:14 | #6

    Sorry – I see I should have directed my question to Jennifer, not Ann.

    @Jennifer – trying to locate an old friend from the 60s, Randy Smith (see my message above)

  7. Carrie Strange
    July 11th, 2013 at 14:58 | #7

    My Father Leslie Charles Strange died Two days ago on July 9th 2013. His Father founded the Chicken Shack and my Father Leslie met my Mother at the one in Abilene. I was born in 1963,July 11th 50 years ago today. I wish this was on Yahoo.com When I a little girl my Father would always come home covered in flour after cooking chickens all day.

  8. Mike Browning
    August 2nd, 2013 at 04:41 | #8

    I was cleaning out a closet at my wife’s 91 year old grandmother and found a very old and yellow paper place mat from the Chicken Shack in Waco, Tx. It has the Chicken Shack location map in the center and ten pictures of sites in Waco on the outer border. Really cool.

  9. Matt Hohmann
    August 26th, 2013 at 01:13 | #9

    Great place to eat -im now age 65 & can remember as a small boy eating in austin & then san antonio-in later years driveing from san antonio to dallas in the 80′s for some marine training id make a special stop each way several times over the years in Waco & eat chicken there & always get a box to go!! Must have done that for 4-5 years too. Wish someone could get their recipe posted !! Thart was the best Chicken ever!

  10. Missy Balusek
    September 10th, 2013 at 19:55 | #10

    @Carrie Strange

    My husband Randy,our little boy Blake, and I live in Waco. We own the house your grandfather built in 1947. I would love to visit with you. You are welcome to come see the house anytime. My phone number is (254)744-3950.

    Missy Balusek

  11. January 12th, 2014 at 18:40 | #11

    I am the Grand daughter of Frank Strange, founder and owner of the Chicken Shack, (Leslie’s Fried Chicken)my Father is Leslie Strange, owner of the Abilene location. He died on July 9th 2013. He was my best friend. He was an artist and I too am an artist but have been in Television Broadcasting for over 30 years now. Please visit my website at http://www.fineartsources.com Carrie Strange

  12. Dan Holzschuh
    May 13th, 2014 at 01:18 | #12

    Years ago I was hunting old neon signs in Waco and ran in to Barret Smith. I wanted to buy the little chicken sign in front of the then recently close location on old77 and he said” you can have the sign but only after you buy the building, licensed name including the recipes for $600.000. I told him I might have a freind, Larry Lavine, previous owner of Chili’s who might take him up on that. For that ,he sold me one of the big white chicken signs he had stored for $500. I then tried to get the one pictured behind the fence at the trucking company and the guy said he wanted $2000. I laughed and told him what I paid. It remained there for about another 5 or 6 yrs until some body with more money than sense got it. Its probably worth that today. Tinsley, the owner of Circle and Health camp ended up with the good sign. “he wont sell it”

  13. Bob Dymke
    June 18th, 2014 at 04:50 | #13

    @Ann Yancey


    I am the nephew of Preston Lewis, who married Frank Strange’s daughter, Elizabeth.
    My Mother was Nell Dymke, who was Uncle Preston’s sister. Preston and Elizabeth operated the Corner Cafe in Cameron before they managed the Chicken Shack. I have never heard your name mentioned. I am 69 years old, and retired from the Texas Department of Public Safety. I have been told that a retired gentleman has bought the Chicken Shack and is restoring it to it’s original state. I found this out today. I plan to drive to Waco tomorrow to see what is happening. It is a very exciting time in my life. The story you told is wonderful.

  14. Jeanie Collier
    October 25th, 2014 at 19:46 | #14

    I was born in Waco and still in the area. My Dad worked for a contractor and he remodeled Leslie’s Fried Chicken in the 1960′s. He got to know the manager (I think I remembered a tall, thin man that worked there) and several waitresses. After that time, we would go to Leslie’s for lunch after Church; I was about 12 at that time. Not only the chicken was so delicious, we would add honey to the chicken and biscuits. There was a glass bottle of honey with a metal lever lid that you could push the lever and the honey will pour out. Also, my Dad loved to order a “half head” salad (it’s called a Wedge now) with Blue Cheese.