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Zaxby's elbows into KFC territory with its chicken

The new restaurant serves chicken and side dishes made to order, including Greek salad.

By JORGE SANCHEZ, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 24, 2002

INVERNESS -- Serving chicken in more ways than you can imagine, Zaxby's became the newest entry in the roster of "try our chicken wings" restaurants.

The franchise restaurant opened last week at 1231 U.S. 41 N, a site formerly occupied by a Hardee's. Zaxby's serves chicken wings and fingers, using them as a stock for everying from a platter of plump wings to a Greek salad.

Zaxby's only serves chicken and side dishes. No burgers, hot dogs or deli subs are on the menu. It's a formula that franchise team member Tammi Goff said translates into financial success.

"We're also in the process of opening our third restaurant in Gainesville," she said.

She said the Goff family learned of the Inverness site when they were scouting for the Gainesville site and decided to build two restaurants.

"We just saw how beautiful Citrus County was and how many people lived here, and that convinced us," she said.

Zaxby's is directly across the highway from the original all-chicken restaurant, KFC.

"But we really don't consider them our competition," Goff said. "They're fast-food; our food is cooked to order."

Football fans may remember Ray Goff, the president of the local Zaxby's franchise. He's the former University of Georgia football coach who had the misfortune of playing Steve Spurrier's Gators at the University of Florida. Goff was 1-11 against the Gators, and Spurrier needled him without mercy, calling him "Ray Goof."

Spurrier has moved on to the NFL, and Goff is now making money selling chicken wings.

Tammi Goff is Ray Goff's sister-in-law and lives in Gainesville.

She will train and supervise the crew during the opening days. There are about 40 employees.

Goff appears to have cooked up a success. The wings come in a wide variety, and the eight sauce styles include teriyaki, barbecue and hot honey mustard.

The chicken fingers are made with breast meat that is breaded and fried. A Wings and Things Plate has five wings, chicken fingers, celery and carrot sticks with dipping sauce, fries and Texas toast for $6.69. It is the most expensive entree on the menu.

Other entrees are the Zaxby's Greek salad, with grilled or fried chicken strips, a charbroiled chicken sandwich, an Italian chicken sandwich, and for the purists, a chicken salad sandwich.

The restaurant is decorated in a melange of sports and movie memorabilia. It is nonsmoking and serves only soft drinks. There is a drive-through window, and orders can be called in (341-1118). The restaurant's hours are Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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