Golden Skillet is a chain of fast-food restaurants specializing in fried chicken. The business was founded in Richmond, Virginia when Thalhimer's department store executive Newman Hamblet convinced Clifton Guthrie to share his recipe for sale out of the store's "Richmond Room" restaurant in 1964.
"Thalhimers Golden Skillet Chicken" proved a popular draw and restaurant service was spread to other store locations with the slogan, "Tender as Quail! Tasty as Pheasant!". The product was also called "Virginia Fried Chicken" and, like rival Kentucky Fried Chicken, was prepared in pressure cookers, notwithstanding the "Golden Skillet" name. The first freestanding Golden Skillet location was opened by Guthrie in Richmond in 1968 and the chain grew rapidly by franchise, boasting 221 stores by the time Guthrie died in 1981. After his death, Guthrie's estate sold the chain to Dairy Queen, which then re-sold it to North Carolina franchisee David Shields. Most Golden Skillet locations closed down in the ensuing years. Coastal Virginia franchisee Wesley Yang survived the longest, with stores in Virginia Beach and Portsmouth surviving well into the 2000s.
In Birmingham, Golden Skillet had five locations:
- 100 Bessemer Super Highway, near Western Hills Mall
- 1860 Center Point Road
- 3420 Avenue E Ensley
- 636 Lomb Avenue, near Princeton Baptist Medical Center
- 819 9th Avenue North Bessemer, near West Lake Mall
- Hubbard, Valerie (August 2003) "Golden Skillet: Virginia's Answer to Colonel Sanders". Virginia Living magazine. pp. 104–107