Chicken lovers flock to suddenly reopened Sumter Church's Chicken

Fast food chain starts serving again on Liberty Street to surprise of residents

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 6/22/18

One thing was for sure this week: Sumterites love their Church's — that's Church's Chicken. The fast food restaurant — known for its hand-battered chicken and sweet honey-butter …

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Chicken lovers flock to suddenly reopened Sumter Church's Chicken

Fast food chain starts serving again on Liberty Street to surprise of residents

Posted

One thing was for sure this week: Sumterites love their Church's — that's Church's Chicken. 

The fast food restaurant — known for its hand-battered chicken and sweet honey-butter biscuits — at 202 W. Liberty St. in the downtown area reopened to waves of customers Wednesday. The eatery had been closed for about a year for renovations and repairs, according to management and staff.

Sumter resident Devante Daniels was in the store Friday for lunch and said he waited three days to get inside because the parking lot had been so packed with customers on Wednesday and Thursday.

It was still busy on Friday when he was able to get in. He said it is his favorite chicken in town.

A total of 22 customers were in the store by a headcount on Friday at 1:30 p.m. Another 10 or so cars wrapped around the restaurant, waiting in the drive-thru.

Tim Ottaway, market leader for Church's Chicken in South Carolina, said the corporate office based in Atlanta, Georgia, took over several locations last year, including Sumter, performed structural repairs on the buildings and are now reopening them.

He said customer response has been tremendous.

"Everywhere we go and reopen these restaurants, the public has been so welcoming and so happy that we reopened," Ottaway said. "It's been great, and we appreciate the response from the guests. Right now, we are getting slammed, but we're working on it."'

The downtown Sumter location is the only Church's in Sumter, Clarendon and Lee counties. The next closest locations are in Columbia and Orangeburg.

Carrie Toney, a resident of the St. Charles community in Lee County, was also in the eatery on Friday. She said she drove about 20 miles from her home to downtown Sumter.

She said she heard from a friend the store reopened Wednesday but that they couldn't get in that day because it was so busy. She finally got her taste buds satisfied Friday.

"They have," Toney said, "some good chicken."