The Leslie’s Chicken Shack history began in Waco, Texas in the Depression years of the early 1930s. Leslie Strange, using a family recipe, originally opened a single “shack” on the Old Dallas Highway in Waco, back when roads were one lane in each direction, and you had to drive right through the middle of town to get to the next one.
What’s There to Eat?
Fried chicken, chicken livers and gizzards, were served in baskets along with dinner rolls made from scratch. The self-service honey often found its way from the rolls to smothering the chicken itself. (Think chicken and waffles of today.) For dessert, there was buttermilk pie. Leslie’s Chicken Shack – not like today’s fast food franchises – eventually had restaurants dotting Texas highways, together with their jacket-clad chickens with a straw hat and cane lit up in neon.
Over its 61-year lifespan and at least three owners, the famous and the notorious dined there. Bonnie and Clyde, Loretta Lynn, and Billy Graham helped swell the crowds that filled these places on weeknights and especially on Sundays after church. Nearby Baylor University alumni tell many stories of eating at the original Waco restaurant. (They may not have served beer in the heart of the Bible Belt!)
At its zenith, Leslie’s Chicken Shack could be found across Texas at some of these locations:
Dallas: 2700 Ft. Worth Avenue.
Waco: 1037 Dallas-Ft. Worth Hi-Way.
Houston: 6415 South Main.
San Antonio: 4020 Broadway.
Fort Worth: 5900 Camp Bowie Blvd.
Corpus Christi: 3006 Leopard St.
Austin: W. 53rd & Highway No. 2
Overtaken by Time
Time passed. People got sick and died. Highways were re-routed. Fast food franchises eclipsed the wait time for food. Leslie’s Chicken Shack, a Texas tradition, finally closed for good in 1993.
There is not much public record for Leslie’s Chicken Shack. But here is one of the last filings from the Texas Secretary of State for its last revival attempt:
LESLIE’S CHICKEN SHACK, INC.
27 September 1991 (over 31 years ago)
17 August 1993
Domestic For-Profit Corporation
4512 PINE AVE.
WACO, TX 76710
LESLIE’S CHICKEN SHACK, INC. (trading name, 1991-09-27 – 1993-08-17)
Inactive Directors / Officers
Frank Barrett Smith, agent
- Year Started: 1933
- Year Ended: 1993
- Origin Of Name: Name and Descriptive
- Location Sales: Texas
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Leslie Strange
- Owner While In Use: Randy Johnson, Barrett Smith
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: 24 Diner – Austin, Texas
- Naics Code: 722511
- Location Headquarters: Waco, Texas, United States