Chicken has landed
Fran's fans besiege a reopened Boca Raton landmark.
By Kathy Bushouse
BOCA RATON- For months, they've driven by the old Fran's Chicken Haven, peeking in its
windows to check on its progress, making sure this mainstay of Boca Raton's culinary scene
hadn't reopened without them.
And on Tuesday, the wishes of many Fran's fans were granted, when the small restaurant that
has dished out fried chicken and french fries since 1964 officially reopened for its first full
day of business since closing eight months ago.
Regular customers of Fran's Chicken Haven may not have recognized the restaurant, with its
new red-and-yellow decor and without the neon chicken sign that hung in Fran's window for
But they love Fran's food and said they eagerly anticipated its return for months.
I've been watching, and I noticed the sign in the windows, and I just kept coming by." Said
Steve Guleff, a Delray Beach resident who has been coming to Fran's Chicken Haven for 27
He's been monitoring the store's progress for a month.
"All of the sudden today, I looked in... and I'm back in here now."
By 1 p.m. Tuesday, so much of Fran's chicken had been sold they had to make an emergency
run for more food.
The first Fran's Chicken Haven closed in April, after more than 36 years in the strip mall plaza
at the corner of Northwest 20th Street and Federal Highway.
The restaurant's founders, Fran and Joe Gerace, didn't want to pay the higher rents their
landlord wanted to charge and decided it was time to retire.
But they came out of retirement to help new Fran's Chicken owner Stacy Hayhurst-Fuentes,
who bought the rights to the restaurant shortly after it closed and decided to reopen it in the
same spot, with some changes.
The couple said they'll help Hayhurst-Fuentes and her son, Jonathan, get the eatery started.
Once they're done, they'l ease back into retirement.
Hayhurst-Fuentes, who also works as a financial consultant with A.G. Edwards, hustled
behind the counter of her new restaurant, taking orders and working with the Geraces.
Every time a customer would tell the Geraces how wonderful it was to see the restaurant
reopen, the couple made sure to point out that Hayhurst-Fuentes was the owner, not them.
"We just want to make sure that they get doing it right," said Joe Gerace.
Longtime customers Jeff and Pam Dolson, both of Boca Raton, were at Fran's on Tuesday to
pick up 20 chicken wings and a two-piece white meat meal for lunch.
They have been frequenting Fran's since the late 1960's, and have faith that Hayhurst-Fuentes
- with whom Jeff Dolson attended Boca Raton High School - will do a fine job of bringing it
"I think if they're following Fran and Joe's recipe, I don't think they'll have a problem."
"Because they're going to get clientele back," Pam Dolson said.
And, considering the calls and queries she has fielded in the past few months,
Hayhurst-Fuentes she doesn't think luring back old customers will be difficult.
"We keep running out [of food] because we're selling so much. The anticipation has been
FAST FOOD: Jonathan Fuentes, son of the new
owner of Fran's Chicken Haven, piles up the fried
chicken at the Boca eatery's grand reopening
Fran's has been a landmark since 1964.
Stacey Hayhurst-Fuentes, new
owner of Fran's Chicken Haven, fills
an order Tuesday. Her son Jonathan
helps out, watched by former owner
Fran Gerace, right.
January 2, 2001