Walt Grayson headshot
By Walt Grayson
April 2023

“World’s Best Fried Chicken,” a staple from the Old Country Store in Lorman, makes its way to New York City.

Old Country Store signA surprise series of events confined me to the house on several occasions here lately. I usually don’t mind being at home. All of my “play-purdies”are here — old radios and records. Only problem, when you don’t feel good, you don’t feel like playing with them. (I’m much better now BTW.)

A lot of my day-to-day work had to be gathered from the internet since travel was difficult. Mr. D at the Old Country Store in Lorman sent me a text that his “World’s Best Fried Chicken” is about to be introduced in New York City. It will be sold from food trucks. This New York City expansion was put on hold back in 2020 because of COVID-19. But, at last, it is about to become a reality. 

Grandmama was the cornbread cooking queen, and I’m the chicken cooking king.

Arthur Davis (Mr. D)Arthur Davis (Mr. D) was living in Florida when his son was attending Alcorn State University. One weekend, he drove to Mississippi for a visit, and discovered the cavernous Old Country Store building in Lorman up for sale. He figured he could find a use for that much space situated right on a busy highway — Highway 61 between Port Gibson and Natchez.

It took a try or two before he hit on turning it into a restaurant and serving up his grandmother’s recipe for fried chicken. It didn’t take long for the world to find his buffet and Mr. D serenading the patrons, singing “Grandmama was the cornbread cooking queen, and I’m the chicken cooking king.” 

The Old Country Store had already been a tourist destination. For years, Ernie Breithaupt had run it. Not as a restaurant, but as an actual old country store. There were soft drinks, and potato chips, and stuff you’d find in any convenience store. But the old stuff was still there, too — old dresses, shoes, and medicine on the shelves. 

A large pan full of fried chickenI did a television story about the store back in the early 90s, and asked Mr. Breithaupt if he had ever been tempted to modernize. He told me that a tour bus loaded with visitors from Europe had just left and another from one of the riverboats docked at Natchez was due. He pointed out those buses passed a hundred “modern” stores on the way there. If he changed, they’d pass his store, too.

There is something about the past we find fascinating, and perhaps even comforting. The Old Country Store has it. McFerrin’s Store in Mantachie had the same attraction before it burned down. Gibbs Store in Learned straddles the past and the present with old stuff on display and great steaks on the weekend. The Simmons-Wright Company at Kewanee east of Meridian preserves the same feel. I expect there are a bunch more stores just like them.

But congratulations to Mr. D on the expansion into the Big Apple. New York City needs to get ready for a treat! And thinking of Mr. D’s chicken is just the incentive I need to recuperate and get back on the road — to Lorman.

Category: Mississippi Seen

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