When I was growing up, my Mom’s job moved over seas and with her being a single mother of three, with a very strong and determined mindset (That’s where I get it from) she started going to school full-time and...
When I was growing up, my Mom’s job moved over seas and with her being a single mother of three, with a very strong and determined mindset (That’s where I get it from) she started going to school full-time and working part-time as a cashier, so it was my job and honor to cook for my two younger brothers. I liked cooking anyway, and my Mom taught me a lot of little stuff right there in her kitchen. I attended the Mary Martin school of culinary arts (My Moms Kitchen) ; I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but she would always say, ‘You’ll get it. You’ll be all right.’ I opened my first restaurant, Catfish Express, in 1985 when I was 26 years old. I didn’t know what I was doing. I had a recipe and an idea, but no business savvy at all. It was trial by fire. I had another restaurant that didn’t make it, and I swore off the food industry for the rest of my life, till a good friend of mine said, ‘Lou, I want you to go down on Millbranch Rd. and check out this building.’ I said, ‘I don’t want another restaurant’, but he said, ‘Just go look at it.’ So I went to look at it and after trying to talk myself out of it, it was such a great opportunity that I couldn’t pass it up, I had no idea what I was going to sell, and as fate would have it I remembered my Mom had given me her Grandmother’s( my great grand mom) Fried Chicken recipe. I decided to open Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken. One of the happiest days of my life was when we got a call from the Food Network, that Guy Fieri would be coming, I responded: “Yeah right”, asking how they found out about us. They were coming to town to do a story on Memphis-style barbecue. I was told whenever they go on location, they look at social media and Uncle Lou’s kept coming up and our online reviews were positive, so they decided to give us a call. I was like, ‘Ma’am, do you know how long I’ve been praying for a national shot?’ ( Not that I was anxious) “They told me they’d get back to me in a couple of weeks — it seemed like a couple of years.”
“They came in January, I got to meet Guy Fieri, and we had a ball shooting the show. It was so funny because you know, he’s got a lot of one-liners and I do as well, so the producer was like, ‘Come on, guys, cut it out.’ He’d say something, I would respond, and we’d be laughing. Of course it would be on camera, so we’d have to shoot it over again.” The show aired on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on August 4, 2008. “Before the show, we were on the brink of going out of business, seriously. We didn’t have a big enough
customer base. I knew we had a good product and good service, but the masses didn’t know about us. So when I found out we were going to be featured on the Food Network, I called my creditors and said, ‘You got two options. If this thing takes off, you’ll get paid. If not, I’ll be out of business and have to file bankruptcy. So I asked if they could give me a couple more months. That’s what happened, and it worked out for us. After the show, things took off, and we’ve been debt free for10 plus years now.
After visiting the restaurant on January 31, 2008, Guy Fieri said in an article in the Commercial Appeal,(local news paper) “He has no idea what’s about to happen ( of course he was right), after this airs, things are gonna blow up. He’s gonna do really good.”
“We serve a lot of different things, but fried chicken is what we’re best known for. The recipe comes from my great-grandmother, Rosie Gillespie of Nesbit, Mississippi. She passed it down to her granddaughter—my Mom, Mary Martin— and my Mom passed it down to me.” The Honey dipped sauce my creation now known as, Sweet Spicy Love named by Guy himself is a trademark of Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken (Thanks Guy) “If you want to be in the restaurant business, you’ve got to love what you’re doing. I’m a people person, and I try to meet and greet as many people as possible who come through that door. I love talking to the customers and I love keeping them satisfied” to hear the laughter and see the happy faces is like the cherry on top.
Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken was established April 4, 2001. Since then, we have won the “Best New Food Item” at the 2001 Mid-South Fair, for our Honey-Dipped Chicken, “Best Overall Food” at the Mid-South Fair, featured locally in print, T.V. and radio appearances’ Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken is also served throughout Liberty Bowl Stadium, including all University of Memphis home football games. We’ve also fed the Memphis Football tigers their post game meals for the past several years, we also feed the University of Memphis Men’s basketball team (some meals as well) the Food Network has been a blessing to me ,my family the staff and most of all the community.