Fran’s Chicken Haven (Boca Raton)
***** Fran’s Chicken Haven, 1925 North Federal Highway, Boca Raton, Florida 33432, (561) 395-0781.
Got something terrific for you…
That’s assuming that you aren’t a “follower” of NYC Mayor Bloomberg–in that you don’t need “Big Brother” (and no, I’m not talking about Janis’ group) to tell you what you can and can’t eat…
Real fast… from 1964-2000 a woman named Fran (thus the name Fran’s Chicken Haven) and her husband Joe, operated a “hole-in-the-wall” fried chicken joint—Fran’s Chicken Haven in Boca Raton. Maybe 3 tables and 4-5 counter seats. In a nutshell, amazing fried chicken and assorted sides. In 2000 the couple retired and sold the business—for the past 12-13 years Fran’s has had 3-maybe 4 different owners who slowly but surely wrecked the business. Jeff Eats may not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but I do know that when something ain’t broke, you don’t try and fix it…one owner changed the batter-mix and added latin sides, another made the joint a kosher chicken restaurant-closing on Friday nights and all day Saturday—hopefully you get the picture.
Since Fran and Joe sold the joint, Jeff Eats who had previously been a real-steady customer, has maybe picked-up chicken 7 or 8 times in the ensuing years.
Now the news…two brothers- Jake Stuart (aged 19) and Chris Stuart (aged 32) both born and bred—Boca Ratonians—bought Fran’s a month or so ago…and have literally “brought” it back to where it was taste-wise during the Fran & Joe era. How does Jeff Eats know all this? Because…Jeff Eats and Mrs. Jeff Eats ala Marvin Gaye heard it through the grapevine—and yesterday, picked up an 8 piece fried chicken, French fries, onion rings, fried corn nibblets order—and I gotta tell you, the food tastes just like we “remember” Fran making it…the “boys” told us that the sale/purchase of the business had included all of Fran’s original recipes and that they had visited with Fran and Joe (who still live in Boca Raton) to get a feel on how to run the joint.
Let me leave you guys with this…if you like fried chicken, fries, onion rings, fried corn nibblets—-then you gotta get over to Fran’s Chicken Haven.
One final thought…
Jake and Chris— When the crowds start pouring in, which they will—don’t even think of renaming the joint- Stuart Brothers Chicken Haven or some such variation!
Down below is the original June 20, 2006 Jeff Eats’ review for Fran’s Chicken Haven:
***** “Fran’s makes some of the best fried chicken that you have ever tasted. This joint has been around something like 40 years and is an absolute hole in the wall. Basically a take-out joint, there are a few tables and a counter for those who want to “dine in.” FRIED is the word here…shrimp, corn, french fries, onion rings. Everything is absolutely delicious.
Don’t tell your cardiologist about this joint.
Fran’s is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.”
I use to be a huge fan of Fran’s. When she and Joe left it was straight downhill and I haven’t been in there in 10 maybe 11 years. This is great news and I’m going to get over there this week and try the food. Thanks for the heads up.
Way back when Fran’s made delicious fried chicken. I use to takeout at least once a month for years. When it was sold the whole place crashed. A nice lady bought it but she had no idea as to how the place worked. She fooled around with the recipes and that was it for me and my wife. Over the years we heard that a couple of other owners came and went and that the last owner had made it a kosher chicken takeout. When we heard that we figured it was just a matter of time to Fran’s just closed up and went away.
We read your article. We also read one in the Sun Sentinel and it seems that Fran’s may have another shot at surviving.
Glad to hear that as it was great years ago.
From a religious standpoint, a kosher chicken has been blessed, killed in a specific way, humanely, and the blood has been removed by salting and rinsing, The person who kills the animal must have had his piety and expertise attested by a qualified rabbi, as must the person who inspects the carcass, and the butcher must be a person of integrity. All the steps and all the people involved in the process must take place under reliable rabbinic supervision.
From a food standpoint, a kosher chicken has been allowed to grow for a couple of extra weeks, it has not been fed any additives or growth hormones, and because of the koshering process (the salting), it is likely to be a bit saltier than the non-kosher chicken. The kosher standard is stricter than that of the US Department of Agriculture, and a higher percentage of chickens are rejected by kosher inspectors. Theoretically it takes an average of three hours from the point of slaughter to packaging for a kosher chicken, versus 45 minutes on average for standard chicken. Not surprisingly, kosher chickens cost more, but in taste tests they have been found to have better flavor.
From either the religious or food perspective, all the steps in the process have been performed before your chicken gets to the store, and certainly before it got to you. Some beef, veal, or lamb may have been koshered at home in years gone by, but chickens have always been koshered in the packing plant.
Long story short – you cannot make a store-bought chicken kosher; you must buy a kosher chicken.
mick, from the chicken’s point of view, dead is dead.
Dean, I’ve been a vegetarian for over 2 decades (I’m 35) and believe all the killing is because we teach violence in our earth culture…….Smile!
when you cut a vegetable from the vine aren’t you killing it?
If I cut you from the vine do you die?
Ive been eating red meat, smoking cigars, and drinking booze for the past 87 years. it’s all in the genes baby, so your wasting your time.
enjoy life, it’s not a high school bio class.
get yourself a nice double cheeseburger with bacon and some ff from burgerfi and you’ll feel a lot better.
there is a reason why there are so many chickens and cows on this earth.
You forgot the angioplast
fran had the best chicken.
the store still has the original neon outdoor sign.
haven’t been there since she left.
As soon as Fran & Joe sold Fran’s went down a slippery slope. Every owner was worse than the one before. they took a great place with a huge rep and wrecked it.
Wishing the STUART BROTHERS the best of luck.
Do the right thing with a famous NAME.
In the restaurant business these sort of things tend to happen all the time. A place is sold and the new owners kill the business quickly. Jeff finds all these hidden places 🙂
Fran’s was amazing.
Haven’t been there in 10 years.
Will give it a try.
From: Mike ,Frans
Thanks for coming by,I’m hooked on Jeffeats already,Hope your chicken was good
.ThxMike Stuart (Jake &Chris ) dad
This mail is sent via contact form on Jeff Eats http://jeffeats.com
Picked up some chicken and a few sides.
Hadnt been in Fran’s in maybe 8 or 9 years. The young guys who now own it seem to be doing there best to get it back where it was when Fran owned it.
I recall the place whenFran had it and the chicken was great.
The boys got something cooking here. The chicken was as close to Fran’s was if memory serves me right.
Had Fran’s chicken and it was excellent.
Having lived in Boca since 1980 I had many a great meal from Fran’s and agree after the sale it was downhill. I had the pleasure of picking up some chicken and gizzards there about 2 weeks ago and it was the absolutely best! The place has had a makover since Fran and Joe sold though it is still one of those rare hole in the wall restaurants. It is worth the drive. Good luck guys.
Just like Fran use to make.
The chicken was very good. A drop too expensive.
Agree very good but twice the price of Publix which also does a good fried chicken.
hey guys, stopped by last sunday and you were closed. hey, you got to be open on sundays.
passed by last sunday and you guys still are open. get real and get open. foodtball season is upon us.
Jeff, I see 1/29/14 that they are now quoting you in The Coastal Star.
Jacob Stuart, 20, tosses a bowl of fries at Fran’s.
The ‘Frantastic 4-piece’ meal for $10.25 at Fran’s Chicken Haven in Boca Raton.
Photos by Libby Volgyes/The Coastal Star
By Jan Norris
Finger lickers take note: Fran’s Chicken Haven is back — back to the original recipe, that is.
The fried chicken institution in Boca Raton, a shotgun style take-out spot in a strip mall that offers chicken straight from the fryer in front of you, has been the buzz on social media since it reopened seven months ago.
Boca Raton High School grads Chris and Jacob Stewart found the spot, Jacob said, after their dad, Mike, noticed it was available.
“We had been looking for a small bar or restaurant to open, and this came open, so we pooled our money and took it over,” Chris said.
Fran’s had been in Boca Raton since 1964 and was a well-loved dive serving what diners on message boards called “the best around.” The neon sign bearing Fran’s name in the window is grandfathered in to the city’s code.
“It was phenomenal chicken,” said Jeffrey Richman, a 20-year Boca Raton resident and a Fran’s devotee. “It reminds you of what your mother made. Comfort food.”
Fran and Joe Gerace had run the take-out spot for 36 years, using Fran’s original recipe for a crispy crust and moist meat — a secret no one will reveal. They retired in 2000 rather than paying a higher rent. For the last 14 years, it has seen a number of owners who bought the recipe along with the lease.
Richman said the first owner after the Gerace’s “fooled around with the formula. She did something to it. It wasn’t the same.”
Longtime customers quit coming, and it was eventually sold to a kosher cook who used it to bake Jewish breads, Jacob Stewart said.
“She tried to make it kosher and really didn’t focus on the fried chicken. It was more of a bread thing for her,” he said. “And she was never open on any schedule. Just whenever.”
It lasted only a long season. Richman went in and saw the hours. “Not open on Friday and Saturday nights? Are you nuts?”
She closed and the property was once again for sale. The Stewart brothers decided to try it, with their dad’s help, and opened last July.
They closely followed the original recipe to recreate a childhood memory. “We used to come here with our Mom and Dad when we were kids. It was great fried chicken,” he said. “We wanted to take it back to the chicken that everybody liked.”
They added a few new sides: fried pickles, hush puppies, corn nuggets, and put on desserts — fried Oreos and fried Twinkies — but the bulk of the menu (fried chicken, shrimp or gizzards and livers) remains the same.
The return of the chicken livers and gizzards was welcomed with huge orders, Jacob said. “The kosher owner didn’t have them, and people who came in here got mad, so we brought them back.”
There are still those looking for a kosher chicken dinner, he said. “We just have to say, ‘sorry.’ But I think the original Fran’s diners are happy we’re here.”
Word of mouth and social media have helped diners find out about Fran’s rebirth.
“We’re doing pretty good,” Jacob said. “We’re going through about 15 (40-pound) boxes a week. So I guess that’s a lot — 600 pounds.”
“People like it, and want us to franchise, so we’re thinking about it,” Chris said. “Maybe we’ll do a food truck, then franchise. Right now, we’re just waiting to see how it goes in season.”
A counter with three stools, and six tables that accommodate 18 along one wall, make for a compact dining area. A refrigerator with serve-your-own drinks sits on the back wall, and behind the counter, the brothers are busy frying chicken and dumping it into the bins, waiting to be scooped into paper baskets for serving.
While the tables are generally full at lunch, the bulk of the business is take-out, Jacob said. People line up on Friday and Saturday nights for the chicken dinners. At $10.25 for a half-chicken dinner with two sides, or $8.25 for a plate of fried livers, it’s a little pricier than Fran’s original. College students and city workers are offered discounts.
Chicken and waffles, and fried shrimp also are options on the menu, but are not as popular as the chicken, straight up.
“It’s great chicken,” said Jonathan Sherry, taking a stool and ordering a breast and wing. He’d been coming in since the early ’90s and is glad the new owners are back to the original recipe. “Old school. No frills. Just like I knew growing up in upstate New York. When I splurge on fried chicken, I come here. Not healthy, but I don’t eat it every day. You come for the quality, not the ambiance. You can’t find anything else like it in Boca Raton.”
“The chicken’s the thing,” Richman said. “I’ve been back every week now, and it’s great. Fran’s phenomenal chicken.”
Fran’s Chicken Haven is at 1925 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Phone: 395-0781
I lived in the Boca they call Raton from 1968 – 1991. Fran and Joe had the best chicken and fries that I ever had. Their chicken and fries had a taste that set it apart from ANYTHING that ANYONE else made. It was different and extremely delicious. I’m dyin’ here in minnesota just thinking about it. DAMN, those fries! What I would do for a piece of that chicken! Joe and Fran should be canonized.
The chicken is amazing if a bit pricey.