Pam Jackson and Gary Keller are owners of the Wayne Avenue restaurant that was quickly forced to drop the term “Parkmoor” from its name after a “cease-and-desist” letter from another restaurant. It will now be called “Ms. Pam’s Old Dayton Style Golden Fried Chicken,” the owners said Wednesday night. This photo was taken Nov. 29, before the owners learned of the trademark dispute. MARK FISHER/STAFF
Keller made it clear he still believes his fried chicken tastes better — and more true to the flavor of the original recipe served at the Dayton-area Parkmoor restaurant chain that reached its peak of popularity in the 1960s — than any other version that he has tasted. But he said he will do as the cease-and-desist letter demands, to avoid a legal battle.
“I didn’t want to spend $60,000 in court and lose,” Keller said. “They have the rights to the name, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
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In its heyday in the 1960s, Parkmoor operated more than a half-dozen restaurants in the Dayton area, and at least 10 more elsewhere in Ohio and in Michigan and Indiana. The fond memories of Parkmoor chicken is evident in a long, nostalgia-filled thread of comments on DaytonHistoryBooks.com.
The Frickers restaurant in Huber Heights started serving Parkmoor Chicken in 2009, according to a Dayton Daily News column by Dale Huffman published in August of that year. And it still does, as a weekly special: just four days ago, on Dec. 10, the same Huber Heights Fricker's touted its Parkmoor Dixie Fried Chicken Sunday special on its Facebook page: "It's Sunday, and that means time for Parkmoor Chicken at Fricker's!"
RELATED: Famous Parkmoor chicken on the menu of local restaurant (August 2009 Dale Huffman column)
The new Ms. Pam’s Old Dayton Style Golden Fried Chicken restaurant opened Tuesday, and Keller and Jackson said they got very positive customer feedback about the quality and taste of their fried chicken, which helps take the sting about the forced name change.
“It’s a shame, and it will hurt our startup, but this product will sell on its own, it’s so good,” Keller said.
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Keller said he has always been an avid fan of good fried chicken.
“If I was on death row, my last-meal request would be fried chicken and two cans of Coke,” he said.
Chicken in the fryer at “Ms. Pam’s Old Dayton Style Golden Fried Chicken” on Wayne Avenue near Belmont High School. MARK FISHER/STAFF
Keller befriended Pam Jackson years ago when she was working for the Church’s Fried Chicken chain in the Dayton area. After Jackson left Church’s Chicken, the two hatched a plan to open their own restaurant.
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“This has always been on my bucket list. I’m 64 years old, so it’s time to do it,” Keller said.
The 2,000-square-foot space — across the street from Belmont High School and what will soon be a new public library — previously housed Oaked and Smoked, a deli that specialized in smoked salmon; a New York Pizza shop; and Tony’s Italian Sausage. The new restaurant seats 38 and will employ about 8 once it gets fully up and running, Keller said.
The Ms. Pam’s menu includes fried chicken pieces, chicken tenders, chicken livers and gizzards and boneless chicken. Sides include fried green tomatoes, fried broccoli-and-cheese bites, okra, cole slaw, green beans and macaroni & cheese. The restaurant offers a two-piece leg-and-thigh special on Tuesdays and Thursdays for $1.99.
“We want to offer customers a nice, healthy meal for a good price,” Jackson said. Plans call for adding equipment to offer fresh-baked cookies soon, she said.
Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (937) 496-5064.