When I first moved back to Los Angeles, I had decided that I was going to visit an ‘ole friend. PIONEER CHICKEN!
Pioneer Chicken held some great memories for me. I can remember my parents bundling me into the station wagon to go to the drive in. It was almost always some adult film like “All The Presidents Men”, but there were always the Pink Panther cartoons to look forward to, the swings down by the big movie screen, and of course….Pioneer Chicken.
Pioneeer Chicken went everywhere with us. The Drive In, Grunion hunting in Long Beach, Camping, and even Disneyland. Yea, we were ‘ole friend’s. I liked the fat little chuck wagon guy on the bucket and the way the entire car would smell as we were on our way to some fun destination. Good memories.
The other day I had decided to re-live that memory and looked them up on the internets. I was sad to find that they had basically gone out of business. BUT…I was surprised to find there was ONE lonely Pioneer Chicken located in Downy California! I was excited, and Yoli and I drove over right away. On the way we talked about our personal memories of this classic chicken place, and even decided on Coleslaw to boot! Passing by KFC’s and Popeye’s we lamented on how Pioneer was a much superior product.
Imagine my dismay when I entered the parking lot under that big sign and found no one there. The restaurant’s lights were on, but no one was inside. For a moment we even wondered if they were open. We wandered into the desolate lobby and was greeted by a young Latino man, he barely noticed we were there. We looked over the menu like a dog looks over a bone, we finally decided on a bucket and some sides.
“Oh I’m sorry,” says the young man,”the dining room is closed”…we look at each other, “That does not matter, we’ll take it to go!” We smile, knowing in just a few moments we will be enjoying the chicken we had made a special trip for.
We order a bucket, I ask for legs….
“I’m sorry sir, but we are out of legs”…he talks back to some unseen person in the back…
“Ok”..I smile..”Let’s just get some thighs and wings”!
“Umm…we have a few wings” The unseen voice from the back mumbles something about the legs being old and that they don’t have much chicken left, it was pretty clear he was ready to take home any left over chicken for himself…
We started to feel uneasy, and frankly a little pissed off…”OK I say, we’ll just take a bucket of whatever you have!” The young man rings us up, “That will be $19.59″….Ahhhhh a small price for chicken PERFECTION even if it WAS old and had been sitting there all day, I whip out the credit card. I have the bucket in my sights, soon it will be MINE!
“Umm, we only accept cash!”
Needless to say we left without our chicken, and as the young man followed us out and locked the door behind us (Early according to there posted sign), he locked away a memory forever. Now we knew why there had been no one in there, why the parking lot was empty, we understood why Pioneer Chicken now only had one lonely location in the armpit of Downey California. Horrible customer service. The experience was ruined for me, I will never go back, I would rather have a happy memory from a happier time, than a recent memory of a place I am sure will become nothing more than a memory soon.