By Liesel Schmidt
Sept. 5, 2022
Over the years, restauranteur Jim Shirley has proven himself to be the master of whatever he puts his mind – and his hand – to. With an empire that includes everything from high-end Southern cuisine and beautifully executed seafood to casual beach fare and wood-fired pizza, the man does not back down from an idea – especially when it has the recipes to back it up.
The latest among his culinary adventures, The Chicken Shack is built on that very Southern staple of fried chicken. As this is Jim Shirley’s brainchild, however, not just any fried chicken. Rather, the recipe is a secret concoction that uses sweet tea as a brine, combined with Chef Shirley’s own special blend of breading. The result accomplishes something that Jim has had on the back burner of his very busy brain for quite some time.
“He has been musing over the idea of a chicken shack for a while, and when the opportunity arose to work with the Seaside team to bring his vision to fruition, he couldn’t pass on the chance to make what he calls ‘Every Mama’s Chicken’ for the masses,” explained Madison Shirley, director of brand and storytelling for Jim Shirley Enterprises. “Every mama has their ‘family’ recipe, and it’s a staple at many dinner tables.”
Because this is, at its heart, a fried chicken restaurant, the kitchen was built specific to that essential task of frying chicken. Boasting fryers large enough to fry 24 pounds of chicken in five minutes, warmers that circulate hot air to keep the chicken crisp yet moist, and other details that make the kitchen “chicken friendly,” The Chicken Shack is, indeed, perfectly designed to execute the best chicken possible.
With signature dishes including Buckets O’ Chicken, the menu offers Jim’s delicious fried chicken, Shack Fried Chicken Tenders, and wings, all of which display his love for fried chicken. Not to mention that famous way he has with food and creating an experience.
“There’s nothing more seemingly basic than a box of chicken, but it’s a meal that is designed to be shared with friends and family,” noted Madison. “He loves creating dishes that bring people together to break bread (or chicken), talk, and make memories.”
Making memories is also something to be done over a great cocktail, and the newly opened C-Bar adjoining The Chicken Shack is just the place to enjoy a drink and watch the sunset. An upcycled shipping container, C-Bar—or “Container Bar”—has a casual vibe with seating on both sides, with a large end space for walk-up drinks.
“The urban style gently contrasts with the Great Southern Cafe’s shaker cottage, so it feels like a new and exciting space for guests to experience,” Madison noted.
Offering the same menu and specialties as The Great Southern Cafe, C-Bar focuses on great cocktails like mojitos and famous food items like Grits a Yaya, though the bar also boasts a carefully curated lineup of craft beer that highlights the local Southern craft beer industry.
“C-Bar is a fun, low-pressure bar that allows guests to choose their experience,” said Madison. “Whether they’re grabbing a seat and unpacking their day or walking up to the to-go window, ordering a drink, then exploring the town or beach, guests will love the opportunity to enjoy the C-Bar.”
The Chicken Shack and C-Bar are both located at 87 Central Square, Santa Rosa Beach. The Chicken Shack is open daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and reservations not accepted. For more information, visit www.thechicken-shack.com. Find the C-Bar at online at www.thecbar.com, service runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.