1369 Ashley River Road
Today: Cash Credit Co.
Yesterday: Andy’s Hillbilly Chicken, 1969-1976
On the menu: Nine pieces of chicken with a pint of coleslaw, a pint of potato salad and rolls, $2.95 (March 20, 1970)
The eight men who banded together to launch Andy’s Hillbilly Chicken were neither hillbillies nor fried chicken maestros (although the one put in charge of operations was named Andrew.) But after flirting with a Golden Chicken franchise, Meyer Jaffee and Melvin Livingston apparently decided they could hawk chicken by the bucket without the help of a Milwaukee home office.
Andrew Melissas, a restaurant owner and president of Charleston’s Greek Orthodox Church, was arguably the partner most familiar with the food business. The other principals, among them a number of local Jewish community leaders, some of whom had known each other since scouting days, worked in fields such as insurance and real estate.
Still, they had brushed up against hospitality at various points in their careers: Jaffee, for example, had run the White Star Food Market on King Street. Livingston 20 years earlier had bought Abraham Berlinsky’s grocery store.
And Andy’s Hillbilly Chicken president Ernest Goer, born Julius Goldberger in The Bronx, was the son of a nightclub designer. Before relocating his custom store fixture company to Charleston, Albert Goer designed The Cotton Club in Harlem.
In 1969, fried chicken seemed like a can’t-lose niche: Other franchises which emerged that year included All-Pro Chicken, Minnie Pearl’s Chicken System, Chicken Holiday, Eddy Arnold’s Tennessee Fried Chicken, Mahalia Jackson’s Glorifried Chicken, Dixie Fried, Yogi Bear Honey Fried Chicken, Chicken Pantry, Wishbone Fried Chicken and Hungry Jack Crispy Chicken.
When Andy’s Hillbilly Chicken opened its first store at 4 Savannah Highway, it was supposed to be the first of six Charleston area Andy’s to open that year. Although the chain actively chased franchisees, it never achieved the opening pace it promised: By 1971, the only Andy’s to have been added were in Georgetown, Lake City and on Ashley River Road.
Andy’s was formally dissolved in 1976.
“Here’s one that’ll give you pause for thought,” a columnist for The News and Courier mused in 1987. “Whatever happened to Andy’s Hillbilly Chicken?”
— Hanna Raskin