April 4, 2002
Dining Finds
Thursday, April 4, 2002

Boca Raton: Fran's Chicken Haven was opened by Fran Gerace and her husband, Joe
in 1964.  But this isn't Fran's anymore.  Stacey Hayhurst-Fuentes, a former financial
consultant, bought it.  She's been a Fran's fan since 1965, when she was 11 years
old.  After completely renovating the place, she reopened it in January 2001.

And it's not just chicken.  I'm partial to the crab cakes.  Now, it's possible to have a
dinner of seven crab cakes, each the size of a 50-cent piece, served with french fries,
coleslaw and a biscuit for $6.95.  On Fridays it's $5.95.  But sometimes I can't wait
till Friday.

And anyway, I'm not a big fries fan.  So on other days, instead of the dinner, I buy
eight crab cakes for $4.95 and a half pint of Hayhurst-Fuentes- smashed candied yams
for $1.75.  The yams are made fresh every day from scratch, with brown sugar,
cinnamon, and maple syrup.  Before Hayhurst-Fuentes puts them into a
container-to-go, she adds a bit more brown sugar and cinnamon to the top.

The crab cakes are fried to order, in 100 percent vegetable oil.  In about two minutes
they're done.  Instead of putting them into a closed container, Hayhurst-Fuentes
places them in a topless box - the kind that you get when you order fried clams at the
beach - protected with foil and deli paper, then slid into a paper bag.  Behind them
come three packets of Kraft tartar sauce and plastic utensils.

Oh the temptation to just reach in and snag one before I get home.  
Can I resist?  Of
course not.  "That's the idea," Hayhurst-Fuentes says.  Sometimes at a red light, I
even take the plastic fork, lift off the cover of the yams and, oh my, it tastes like desert.

Don't be surprised if when you return - and you will - Hayhurst-Fuentes comments on
your new hairstyle.  And if she asks how your day is going, it's perfectly OK to tell
her the truth.

Fran's Chicken Haven, 1925 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, 561-395-0781, is on
the west side of the street, north of Glades Road.