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Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

The journey to Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken started more than 60 years ago in Mason, Tennessee. Napoleon ‘Na’ Vanderbilt and his wife, Gertrude, sold their made to order hand-battered fried chicken out the back door of a tavern—it has since grown to 36 restaurants and counting across the country. 

Gus’s is the current reigning champion of the National Fried Chicken Festival in New Orleans, the Travel Channel’s 12th Tastiest Restaurants in America to Chow Down, and GQ Magazine’s top ten restaurants in the world worth flying to for a meal. It’s no surprise that the fried chicken recipe is top secret—Gus once said, “This is a dead man’s recipe, and I ain’t telling.”

Steve and Julie Zanone own all three locations in the Kansas City region.

“We were both born in Memphis and moved to Kansas City almost 30 years ago for Steve’s job in banking,” says Julie. “Over the years, as we’ve spent time in Memphis visiting friends and family, we grew to love Gus’s Fried Chicken. My dad was a great friend and business associate of the gal who owns Gus’s, the franchisor. On one trip home she shared with us that she was expanding and selling franchises, and Steve immediately asked my dad to arrange a meeting for us to talk with her about the possibility of us bringing this award-winning fried chicken to Kansas City. Shortly thereafter, we bought the franchise rights for the Kansas City region.

“We are very involved in the business but work mostly behind the scenes. We started in 2016 with the store in Kansas City, and in 2021, we opened a second location in Overland Park. Our third location in Lee’s Summit just opened in February of this year. We are extremely lucky and blessed to have an incredible Regional Manager, Jerri Kirk, who runs the show on a day-to-day basis, both in-store dining and our busy catering operation.”

Although the recipe originated in Tennessee, Gus’s fried chicken is not your typical Nashville cayenne-heavy hot chicken—it’s battered and fried in peanut oil, making a perfectly crispy brown coating with just a mild kick of spice.  

“The actual batter itself is shipped to us from the home office in Memphis and the contents are a closely guarded secret.”

Everything is made in-house daily, and the southern sides are slightly sweet to offset the spiciness of the fried chicken.

“At Gus’s, we want to ensure that our guests sit back, relax and enjoy what many people believe to be the best fried chicken in the world. Besides fried chicken, the most popular items on our menu are our fried pickle and fried green tomato appetizers. Customers also enjoy our simple southern-style pecan, chess, chocolate chess, coconut and sweet potato pies baked fresh in-house daily—and don’t forget the sweet tea!”

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken has three local locations in Lee’s Summit, Overland Park, and Kansas City. For more information, visit