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Local

Chicken George is on the run, and heading north

Candlelight Inn spin-off opens in Madison suburb

In addition to the restaurant's signature dish, Chicken George, The Chicken Run delivers a hefty side of fresh-cut fries.
In addition to the restaurant's signature dish, Chicken George, The Chicken Run delivers a hefty side of fresh-cut fries.

MIDDLETON, Wis. – Chicken George has expanded his empire.

The Chicken Run, a spin-off of the Sterling-based, family-owned Candlelight Inn chain, opened Dec. 19 in this Madison suburb of about 17,500.

The mostly take-out and delivery restaurant seats 12 to 15, has a drive-thru, and delivery service will begin in January, Melissa Ryan-Bergstrom, the restaurant’s marketing director, told the Wisconsin State Journal.

Candlelight Inn, founded in 1967 by Bob Prescott and now owned and operated by his sons Matt and Bobby Prescott, is famous for its signature hand-battered Chicken George – they sell about 6,000 pounds of the tenders a week – and its sweet, tangy Jan’s sauce, named after Bob’s late wife, who created it.

It’s now a three-state chain, with fine-dining restaurants in Sterling, Rock Falls and overlooking the Mississippi River in Clinton, Iowa.

Middleton’s is the first to be named The Chicken Run, and the dish named after the fry cook who invented it 40-some years ago will be the focus of a limited menu that will include hand-cut french fries, hand-battered cheese curds, deep-fried Oreos, and other dipping sauces.

According to The Chicken Run’s Facebook page, its chicken and fries are always fresh, never frozen – in fact, the restaurant has no freezer – and its chickens are raised cage-free on a family farm, with no added hormones or steroids.

The reviews, so far, have been positive:

For example, Thomas Michel posted this review on its Facebook page:

“Being a native of the Sterling, Illinois area where Chicken George got its claim to fame, I am thrilled to have the same amazing chicken right down the road here in Middleton. It’s the same great chicken I was raised eating. The addition of some new sauces, delicious fries and the deep fried Oreos add a new flair to a classic dish.”

“Can’t wait to see how amazing The Chicken Run (and Chicken George) does in Wisconsin!”

And from Lisa Munson-Holrude:

“I have several friends from the Sterling area and have been hearing about Chicken George for a number of years. My first visit and I think you hit it out of the park.”

If everything goes well, the Prescotts’ first foray into Wisconsin might be “the start of something that could be great,” Ryan-Bergstrom said.

Bob Prescott is still making daily deliveries for the business, and “Matt and Bobby are obviously following in their dad’s footsteps, being entrepreneurs and going into areas where they think their business can be successful,” she said.

“It’s a very family-oriented business. So they are good to their employees, they are good to the community. It’s really going to be an asset to Middleton.”

Used with permission of the Wisconsin Sate Journal, madison.com/wsj/

MAKE A RUN

The Chicken Run is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m daily at 6401 University Ave. in Middleton, Wisconsin, a suburb of Madison.

Call 608-819-8253 or find it on Facebook for more information.

Go to candlelightinnrestaurant.com for more information on the three other restaurants and the Sterling family who hatched a mini-empire.

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