Featured photo: Slappy’s owner Scott Brandenburg stands in front of his newly reopened store on April 24. (photo by Jerry Cooper)
Whispers in the dark. Rumors, cloaked in shadow.
A nameless persistence, harking of fried chickens past remembrance.
One wing to rule them all, and in the sauce, bind them.
Slappy’s Chicken re-emerged from the long dark on Monday, after a journey that began during the rule of the COVID. The abrupt end of their reign was a loss to those who celebrated the spicy chicken among the realms of all creatures. Most thought the end of Slappy’s was prophesied in the long line of battles lost in the time of the COVID. The people of the lands mourned as they did for so many during that time. But they were all deceived, for another Slappy’s was made. After two years, Slappy’s Chicken is returned.
Born in 2016, Slappy’s rapidly gained fame and renown for their exploits in the poultried arts. Scott of Brandenburg executed his vision of “Carolina Dipped Chicken” or “Statesville Hot,” giving homage to his boyhood origins: fried chicken dipped in a spicy savor, served with simple sides — potato salad with bacon, baked beans, collards, even a proper mac and cheese that utilized Cheez-Its as a crust. Bacon in a potato salad instead of raisins? Heavenly.
The Slappy’s menu prepared for the cold seasons that inevitably visit, by preparing a chili in the colder months, a no-beans recipe closely related to a foreign place called “Texas.” This chili had hints of the same sauce that made the chicken popular in many a tavern. Workers, from those who favor good tilled earth to the tavern servers, all celebrated the hasty service that could be acquired for any of the days’ seven meals. In a vast array of gilded halls that served assorted foodstuffs that were anything but constant, Slappy’s quietly responded by offering a simple and filling repast to the naysayers and camps vying for the realms that were quickly setting up tentpoles in other parts of the city.
And then, nothing.
Slappy’s quietly shuttered, leaving questions. Questions that needed answering. When asked, many of the employees would just give hints to the ifs and whens of a reopening. And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became folklore, folklore became legend, legend became myth. And for two and a half years, Slappy’s passed out of all knowledge. Until, when chance came, Slappy’s released a packaged morsel emblazoned with the Slappy’s sigil. Much like elves with their lembas, the packages began to appear in the hands of pint drinkers, and within the spicy contents was a faint hope.
Rumors grew of a shadow in the southside, constantly working, building, upgrading. Former employees would speak of Slappy’s not as if it were dead, but merely biding its time, waiting for the moment to announce to the world. The people had their suspicions, but none were spoken aloud except in the late-night confines of empty bars. Whispers of a reopening spread when Slappy’s would return. Then, on late Sunday night, the beacons were lit. “Slappy’s calls for aid!”
Cryptic pictures began to appear on Facebook Monday morning. A cash register. A logo. An open door. A familiar plate with the signature chicken cradled with two sides. Employees who were thought to have moved on to other restaurants deep in the wild. And the owner, quietly smiling to himself as he served up Elevensies.
Slappy’s is located at 200 W Acadia Street in Winston-Salem and is open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.
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