An iconic Portsmouth fried chicken spot is serving up its last containers of gizzards, fish, hush puppies and pies.
The last Golden Skillet restaurant in Hampton Roads is closing its doors. Saturday marks its final day of sales with the shop officially closing Sunday. The takeout-only restaurant has been serving customers on Victory Boulevard for more than 35 years.
Owner Sally J. Oglesby announced the decision to close in a Sept. 13 letter posted inside the restaurant.
“It was truly a pleasure to serve you all,” she wrote. “We hope we have been successful in delivering excellent service and fulfilling orders to your liking.”
During the Friday lunch rush at Golden Skillet, a line of customers streamed out the doors and onto the pavement outside. Inside, wood paneling, Washington Football Team memorabilia and a vintage cigarette vending machine greeted the crowd. The menu signs displayed the slogan, “A leg in your hand puts a smile on your face!”
Portsmouth resident Robin Vinson has been coming to the Portsmouth Golden Skillet for as long as she can remember. She greeted the cashier with a smile and emotionally shared, “Our last order.” Vinson said she started coming to the restaurant with her parents and was now ordering for both her children and grandchildren.
“It’s just been such a wonderful part of our history here,” Vinson said.
Beyond the chicken, which she said is perfectly moist and crunchy, the atmosphere and friendly employees kept her coming back to Golden Skillet. She also praised their consistency, saying the food was always delicious.
Fellow Portsmouth resident Tony Baugh said Portsmouth was losing a neighborhood staple.
“We’re losing a lot of different institutions that really fed the community, mainly the Black community,” he said, referencing the recent closure of Moseberth’s Fried Chicken. “So, it’s unfortunate to see another one leave.”
The closure follows the death of former Portsmouth Golden Skillet operator Richard “Chicken Man” Oglesby in 2017, according to the obituary.
The first Golden Skillet restaurant opened in Richmond in 1964 at the upscale Thalhimers department store, according to previous Virginian-Pilot reporting. At one point, the chain had 221 locations, including 45 in Hampton Roads. Most franchises have since closed but a few locations remain open, including one in Petersburg and a few in the Richmond area.
Trevor Metcalfe, 757-222-5345, firstname.lastname@example.org