LeRoy’s Fried Chicken closed last night, which makes me sad. Like many others, I wasn’t overly enamored with the thick-battered style of Julia LeRoy’s fried chicken when the Howell Mills shack opened four months ago. But if you tried the place after it was open two weeks and gave up on it, you missed what eventually became a destination for some righteous fried chicken. I was there a few weeks back and loved the sheer, much-thinner batter, the vividly seasoned (but not salty) potato salad that replaced the iffy mac and cheese, the fluffier biscuit, and the smoky greens. We were planning to give the newcomer a Best Of award in our December issue (in production this week), I liked it that much better.
I talked to Julia LeRoy this morning. Though rumors started early yesterday, she said that she met with owners Clay Harper and Mike Nelson (who operate Fellini’s Pizza and other casual restaurants around the metro area) around 2 p.m. and decided jointly to close the place. They’d had positive customer feedback about the evolution of the product, but the business wasn’t making money and they all agreed they’d ultimately missed the mark on the concept. LeRoy said she was passionate about cooking the chicken in lard; she consented, though, that the decision had alienated a lot of customers. “The great thing is, we all still like each other,” said LeRoy. “That doesn’t always happen when a restaurant closes.” They had originally discussed operating until Sunday, but after telling the employees, the partners agreed to call it quits last night.
A fried chicken stand may not have been her best métier, but I still recall plenty of meals I enjoyed on LeRoy’s “localvore Mondays” at the Bookhouse Pub, and I’m hoping that she soon finds a venue to show off her broader range of talents.