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Bunnell’s Iconic Chicken Pantry Restaurant Closed After 68 Years

ⓒ Google Maps

Long one of the most fabled and popular restaurants in all of Flagler County, the Chicken Pantry has closed its business after almost seven decades in operation. Though it moved locations multiple times over the years, the restaurant last operated on SR-100 in the old Pizza Hut building (with its recognizable Pizza Hut roof) across from the post office.

The announcement came through Flagler Restaurants, a directory of dining locations in Flagler County, which posted the news to Facebook Monday morning. Reactions were largely disappointment, as many have known and dined at the Pantry for their entire lives in Flagler County. Even for those who’ve only ever lived in the area, most haven’t been in town as long as the Pantry, which first opened in 1956.

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Though it was most known for its locally iconic fried chicken, the Chicken Pantry served a robust menu including breakfast, burgers, seafood, pasta, and bar-b-q. The reasons the restaurant chose to close after so long in business are unknown, as no reason was given in the Flagler Restaurants announcement. It recently closed for business for a few days after a health inspection found multiple violations, including six live and ten dead cockroaches, multiple chemical storage infractions, and standing water in the walk-in cooler.

Also specified in the announcement was the next step for the restaurant: an auction will be held on Friday, March 29th of the restaurant’s collection of rooster statues and figurines. If there was any inkling the facility would continue on in some other iteration one day soon, that detail seems to put an extra damper on things. According to state business records, the restaurant’s most recent owner is Jenelle Cirkovic. A request for comment was sent out after the news came out Monday, and any comment provided by Cirkovic will be added to this article once it’s received.

This writer’s last meal at the Chicken Pantry, in October 2023. ⓒ AskFlagler

The Chicken Pantry existed in Flagler County for much of the area’s history and drastic transformation. The county had only two cities when it opened its doors (Palm Coast was still 43 years from becoming a city), and Bunnell was still a major stop on the Florida East Coast Railway for commerce just past the state’s centennial. The restaurant was once racially segregated, as were many businesses in Bunnell in the nation’s Jim Crow era. After civil rights prevailed, the Chicken Pantry became a place to meet and fraternize for all members of the community from any and all walks of life.

Though for a very different reason, the Chicken Pantry is the second extremely historic institution to disappear from view on one small stretch of SR-100 in less than a year; the Flagler Playhouse just a couple dozen yards away was critically damaged in a structural fire back in October. That building had existed there as a church for decades prior, serving as a place of congregation for some of the city’s deepest-rooted residents. It still stands charred and waterlogged, across from the now-vacant Chicken Pantry restaurant. The end of those two local icons will go down as a moment when Bunnell changed forever.

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. TR

    March 25, 2024 at 2:18 pm

    I’m surprised it took this long. Went there when it was at the previous location on RT1 near Roger’s towing. Not I believe it’s called the southern grill. Always was please when I went there. Then they moved to the last location. Went there a few time and never went back. Slow service, orders brought out wrong and cold. Happened at least 5 times and so I decided whatever changed in the move was not for me.

    Would like to mention also it’s not across from the post office, it’s two building next to it on the same side of the road.

  2. Chris Balsam

    March 25, 2024 at 2:19 pm

    WOW….. I’ve known Janelle and her family for years and this truly is heartbreaking news. The food was delicious. Would love to put the Rooster in my front yard to remember an old friend from the Old Rooster bar. I will make a bid on it.I wish them all well in their future.

  3. TR

    March 25, 2024 at 9:04 pm

    Well Chris, you better call Janelle fast because the large Chicken/Rooster has been removed from it’s mountings in front of the restaurant. Then before you put it in your front yard, you better find out from the city if it’s allowed before you go through all that work just for the power to be come and tell you that you have to move it behind a fence. Good luck.

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