Church’s Kitchen, Renowned for its Fried Chicken, to Close its Doors

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Judy, Leroy and LaToya Church of Church's Kitchen

Judy, Leroy and LaToya Church of Church’s Kitchen

Locals reacted with dismay when the news started leaking out that Church’s Kitchen, a beloved neighborhood institution known far and wide for its stellar fried chicken, was shutting its doors after more than two decades.

Judy Church, who owns the restaurant (located on Springfield Avenue in Vauxhall, just over the Maplewood border) with her husband Leroy, confirmed the news in a recent phone conversation with The Village Green.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Judy. “We have been like a family with our customers. It has been a joyous ride but every road has to end somewhere.”

Leroy has decided it is time to retire from the grueling work of cooking and running a restaurant, though the couple will remain in the area. “He’s been working since he was a little boy,” said Judy. In addition, their daughter is expecting a baby – Judy and Leroy’s first grandchild. “It’s time for a different chapter. Twenty-one years is a long time.”

The store’s last day will be Saturday, June 18.

Church's Kitchen, Vauxhall NJ (Google)

Church’s Kitchen, Vauxhall NJ (Google)

Church’s fried chicken had gained acclaim and accolades across the area and beyond, and was lauded by The New York Times, the Star-Ledger and New Jersey Monthly, among others. Fried to order (as Judy says on the website, “The chicken doesn’t wait for you, you wait for the chicken”), the chicken is juicy, crisp-skinned and bursting with flavor.

The menu is rounded out with ribs and a host of classic Southern sides, including mac-and-cheese, black-eyed peas, candied yams and collard greens, plus desserts. The restaurant also does catering.

When you spied a steaming foil pan filled with Church’s fried chicken at a friend’s or neighbor’s backyard party or barbecue, you knew it was going to be a good night.

The Churches had hoped to sell the business to someone who would keep it going, but they haven’t been able to come to any agreement with prospective buyers.

“It’s sad, we’re going to miss everybody,” Judy said.

Plan to get your chicken fix before June 18. Call ahead to avoid the wait.

And say a bittersweet goodbye and thanks to Judy and Leroy.

Church’s Kitchen, 2117 Springfield Ave, Vauxhall NJ 07088, 908-810-1686. Open Wed.-Sat., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closed Sunday-Tuesday).

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