For the past month or so, certain weekend patrons of have been disappointed to arrive at this pocket-sized eatery expecting its famous fried chicken, only to find it crossed off the menu.
Reviews of Jodie's often rave about the fried chicken, which, for more than 20 years, was a staple weekend offering.
That all changed about six months ago, when a health inspector paid a visit to the restaurant, and asked a fateful question: "Where do you keep your chicken?"
Anyone who's visited Jodie's is familiar with the tight-squeeze setting, which both and provides an open view into the diminutive kitchen where, these days, grandson, Charles Garrison, works his magic.
Take a quick look around, and you'll see there isn't much space to prepare, or store, more than 200 pieces of chicken, which go through a labor-intensive process to ready them for the weekend demand.
The health inspector, Royston said, had received a tip that the chicken was prepared and stored off-site.
This had been the case for 22 years, he added, but the process had been off the official radar. Due to space contraints, the chicken has always been prepared and stored in the kitchen at Royston's home.
"Someone didn't like how we were doing things," he said. "It wasn't a customer. No one has ever once gotten sick off our chicken."
Off-site preparation isn't in line with restaurant food safety rules and, in June, Jodie's pulled the item from the menu to comply with the health inspector's dictate.
"The day they told us we couldn't have chicken, I cried," said grandson and cook Garrison, who's 25. "I went home and had a long drink."
Jodie's menu may be the most diverse around, so there's no shortage of other delectable offerings. Seemingly every possible combination of eggs, grits, potatoes and meats are posted on the wall behind the register in a dazzling array.
In addition to laminated pages promoting the "Obama Special" and "Gabe's A+," a slew of other offerings are taped up on smaller sheets of paper with handwritten descriptions.
Want a grilled cheese with a hot link and an egg? You got it. Interested in a combination that includes grits with cheese, smoked barbecue pork, two eggs and a grilled English muffin? "J.R.'s Plain Breakfast" has you covered.
If you can't find the perfect combo on the wall, or would rather throw caution to the wind, just ask Jodie and Charles to make the decision for you.
(This reporter tried this approach on a recent Friday and ended up with two eggs expertly cooked, over easy, on a bed of crispy hash browns settled atop a mound of creamy grits. There was also a flavor-packed slab of sausage and two buttermilk-y pancakes involved. Breakfast heaven? Check.)
It's worth noting that, when the restaurant first opened, said Garrison, fried chicken wasn't even on the menu.
But what of the famed chicken? Garrison and Royston recently posted a sign that reads "We're temporarily not serving chicken because of circumstances beyond our control."
It hasn't stopped customers from wanting more information, but Garrison said it can be emotional to explain the situation again and again.
Royston did want to make it clear that, though the item isn't currently available, "There's nothing wrong with the chicken."
In fact, a description by Garrison of its preparation leaves one with little room to worry, and more than a bit of a hankering to try a bite: The sink is first washed out with hot water and Palmolive soap, which is followed by a bleach-and-hot-water scrub. That's rinsed out with cold water to clean and cool the area.
The chicken is loaded into the sink, which is filled up with water. The meat is soaked in water and lemon juice for four hours. The feathers are removed, along with the fat, leaving clean skin and meat. The chicken is seasoned and left to marinate in the freezer from Monday through Saturday, when it's cooked to order.
"At Jodie's, everything is cooked to order," added Royston. "Ticket by ticket, so don't be in a hurry."
As it turns out, Jodie's has been looking for a new location, so fried-chicken lovers may not be out of luck forever. Royston was looking into a space in El Cerrito, but it didn't pan out. A Brentwood location also fell through.
Royston wants an open kitchen, to keep the cooking process transparent, and needs a place outfitted with a range hood, which can cost upwards of $10,000.
Spaces that offer both haven't been easy to come by, Garrison said.
"We would like to stay in Albany," added Royston, "but we need help."
How long will it take someone to start a "Bring back Jodie's fried chicken" campaign on Facebook...?
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