Youngblood’s Fried Chicken
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Probably the most-lamented fried chicken place I’ve found is Youngblood’s. I dimly remember seeing a Youngblood’s Restaurant at the Old Mill place during the State Fair of Texas about 1968, yet across the internet people swear it was the best chicken ever, and replications of its recipe can still be found.
Julius Harper “Pap” Youngblood was a cotton farmer in Speegleville, just west of Waco, when he bouht 500 baby chicks in 1930, raising them as a sideline to help make ends meet. (Ever hear recordings of Wolfman Jack hawking baby chicks over Mexican radio?) By 1942 “Pap” and his sons, Weldon and Ovid, had got the hang not only of raising chickens, but doing it “from the egg to the table”, processing and delivering feed for the poultry, and dressing the birds in their own processing plant. They opened their first restaurant in Waco in 1945 to advertise their business, and it was so successful they expanded to Dallas, opening their second restaurant in Oak Cliff in 1946 near Colorado and Zang. The above ad announced the opening of that restaurant. By 1961 Youngblood’s was the fried chicken king of Texas, with 60 chicken-raising farms around Waco, a chain of 14 restaurants, and about 500 people in their employ.
In 1967 Youngblood’s had more than 30 restaurants in Texas and at least 6 franchise stores in the state. In 1968 they announced plans to expand with a nationwide franchising operation, but they were too late; the market was already flooded with other fried chicken franchises. That and a series of financial mishaps resulted in overwhelming debt, and all of Youngblood’s restaurants abruptly closed in 1969. Some of the restaurants were sold to Mickey Mantle’s Country Cooking, Inc. and the poultry processing operation was scaled back to about 12 people. By 1970 none of the Youngbloods had any association with their former operation.