Battle Creek Chicken Coop on 20th Street Torn Down
The Chicken Coop on 20th Street just off Dickman Road in Battle Creek is no more. Crews are finishing demolition of the restaurant, which closed during the past year. A person answering the phones at Davis Oil C-Stores confirmed that they have acquired the property, but it’s not known what they have planned for the property.
The Chicken Coop restaurant chain was founded by Jim Vander Horst and his wife Carol in 1966. Vander Horst, from Kalamazoo, got his start working at Hoekstra Meats and later worked as a butcher for Meijer Thrifty Acres. In 1966, he built a small A-Frame structure on Patterson Street in Kalamazoo, across the street from Thrifty Acres and opened “The Chicken Coop.’
Vander Horst never allowed his restaurants to operate on Sunday, and every bucket of chicken had the words "Only one life will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." He passed away last November 19th at the age of 87.
In a 2002 article in the Battle Creek Enquirer, Vander Horst said “We’ve got a store on 20th Street that’s been one of our best stores.” When Bill Knapp’s Restaurants closed in 2002, Vander Horst honored Knapp’s gift certificates at all of his 15 restaurants in Battle Creek, Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor. He said “A Bill Knapp’s customer is pretty much our customer, too.”
The restaurant was under different ownership in recent years, and many claim it had gone downhill. A restaurant review on Yahoo from January of 2017 by Arron S. stated
“They not closed yet place sucks soggy breaking on chicken and the entire place looks like a dump. Health inspector should go and shut it down.”
Many comments on the demolition of the Chicken Coop appeared on the Facebook Page “You Know You’re From Battle Creek When”.
Joe Vega writes
20th street location turned into a disgusting dump. Dirty and poorly managed. I used to eat there 20 years ago when it was the real deal.
April Bee Bummer writes
I remember going to that one to pick up chicken to take to my dad working in our fields. We would sit on the tail gate and eat our lunch. Great memories.
Geri Campbell writes,
Good fried chicken. Decent prices. I'm glad they have another location on Columbia Avenue.
Many of the Chicken Coop franchises are still owned by the Vander Horst company.