Hal Guthrie graduated from Auburn University in 1963. After a couple of years of diversified employment, he opened a drive-in restaurant in Haleyville, Alabama, just 30 miles north of his hometown of Jasper. This was the beginning of Guthrie’s Restaurants. Over the next 18 years, Guthrie’s served a wide variety of food – hamburgers, hamburger steaks, steak sandwiches, fried chicken, barbecue, fish sandwiches, salads and even ice cream all graced the menu at one time or another. Fried shrimp even called Guthrie’s home for a time.
However in 1978, Hal came into his restaurant and announced to his wife, Melissa, and four children that they were going to begin serving chicken fingers. He knew it was necessary to have the best sauce available to accompany his unique chicken finger breading blend, and began his search for the most delicious chicken finger sauce he could find. Little did he know that he’d find that sauce in his own kitchen, concocted by one of his children.
Chicken fingers accounted for only a small portion of Guthrie’s sales when they were first introduced. But once customers got a taste of Guthrie’s Golden Fried Chicken Fingers, there was no turning back. They were hooked!
In 1982, Chris Guthrie, Melissa and Hal’s oldest son, was a student at Auburn University. He talked Hal into coming to Auburn to help start a Guthrie’s restaurant. After renovating an existing building, Chris and Hal realized that some items would have to be eliminated because of the small space of the building. So the large menu was pared down to just hamburgers, steak sandwiches and chicken fingers. But it wouldn’t be long before the burgers and steak sandwiches were cut from the menu, thanks to the overwhelming popularity of the Chicken Finger Box. This increased speed and efficiency in the kitchen.
Guthrie’s was the extremely popular go-to restaurant for college kids in the ‘80s, and the brand began to flourish from there. Chris opened stores in Athens, Georgia, and Tallahassee, Florida; Hal opened in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Hud and Joe Kelley opened in Birmingham, Alabama, and Auburn, Alabama; Anna Margaret opened in Jasper, Alabama, and a new location in Haleyville, Alabama. Everybody was falling hard for those Golden Fried Chicken Fingers, crispy fries, buttery Texas Toast, creamy cole slaw and, of course, the Signature Sauce. At this time, Guthrie’s was pretty much a Southeastern household name. Students and people from all walks of life were beginning to crave the Guthrie’s taste.
And now, more than half a century later, Guthrie’s continues to be a restaurant—and family—institution. On July 31, 2015, we hosted a Golden Anniversary celebration at each location to commemorate 50 years of dedication to our craft - serving fresh, hot, fast Golden Fried Chicken Fingers and Signature Sauce. We thanked our customers for their loyalty with special prices, prizes and giveaways that can be used all year long.
We are blessed to have had our family business grow over the past 50 years and are looking forward to serving the rest of the country for years to come. A third generation of Guthrie family members are now opening their own Guthrie’s restaurants and becoming involved in the Guthrie’s business. Additionally, our franchise business is steadily growing, giving people all across the U.S. a taste for our Golden Fried Chicken Fingers.
Love Guthrie's? Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on specials, news and exclusive coupons!