There's been some feather shuffling at Ezell's Famous Chicken in Tacoma, where the owners of the Seattle-based fried chicken restaurants have taken over the local franchise, spiffed up the facilities and pledge to improve the quality of food and service.
Ezell's opened at Pacific Avenue and 72nd Street in 2005. The franchise closed in March. Ezell's founders, Ezell and Fay Stephens and Lewis Rudd, re-opened the restaurant on May 10, with new staff. I stopped in for a First Bite last week.
Cleanliness and service had been concerns each time I'd visited the old franchise (along with the short-lived Ezell's franchise on Sixth Avenue, where Herban Café now operates). A new paint job inside and out are Ezell's biggest noticeable cosmetic improvements to the 50-seat restaurant.
It's impossible to compare the quality of the food between an existing restaurant and a defunct restaurant, but let me say: I enjoyed most of what I ordered and ate at the "new" Ezell's, especially desserts.
Ezell's double dips its birds -- first in breading, then in batter, then in breading again. This helps give the skin crunch and helps seal in natural juices as the bird parts fry in trans-fat-free vegetable oil. This worked perfectly for the juicy, intensely golden thighs and drumsticks I sampled, but the breasts, while meaty, verged on dry.
Spicy chicken had a whole lot more flavor than the bordering-on-bland regular chicken, thanks to an overnight marinade in Creole seasoning and a little cayenne that gives the batter bite.
Sides and desserts are made in house. Potato salad and coleslaw will appeal to mayo lovers. Desserts should appeal to anyone who can eat sugar. Sweet potato pie and bread pudding were moist and heartily spiced. Layers of piecrust beefed up peach cobbler. Yeasty rolls were soft and golden.
Two-piece meals start at $5.50. Four-piece meals are $9.50. Twenty-four pieces, with rolls and sides, is $45.05.
I'll be back.
Ezell's Famous Chicken : 7201 Pacific Ave. S, Tacoma; 253-472-4300. Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays. Prices: $.