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Legendary AQ Chicken House to close after more than 75 years in Springdale

by Garrett Moore | March 2, 2023 at 12:24 p.m.
The AQ Chicken House in Springdale is seen Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022. The legendary restaurant opened in 1947. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. Wampler).

SPRINGDALE -- AQ Chicken House plans to shut its doors after seven and a half decades of business in Springdale.

The restaurant's last day of business at 1207 N. Thompson St. will be March 18, according to manager Kaleesa Sanders. She said she did not know anything else about the closing.

Owner Dick Bradley said in December there was a pending contract for a company to buy the property, but the company involved was "doing their due diligence" and had not yet accepted a deal. It was unclear as of Thursday morning whether that deal was completed.

Roy Ritter opened AQ Chicken House in 1947.

In the beginning, when Thompson Avenue was still a dirt road, chickens were raised, killed, cleaned and processed right behind the restaurant, according to Kat Robinson's book "Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley."

The menu has served chicken in all forms over the years. Some of the signature dishes have included pan-fried chicken, often served with spaghetti, and the AQ Pickle O's, battered and fried dill pickle bites.

The restaurant was sold to Frank Hickingbotham and Ron Palmer in 1981, Robinson writes. In 1998, Bradley sold his Lincoln chicken farm to buy the business.

President Bill Clinton celebrated his 47th birthday with pan-fried chicken at the restaurant and George W. Bush once ordered some AQ chicken from Air Force One, according to the restaurant's website.

A second AQ location at 1925 N. College Ave. in Fayetteville was open from 1991 to 2016.

AQ, which stands for Arkansas Quality, is one of a few U.S. 71 restaurants like Herman's Ribhouse in Fayetteville and Neal's Cafe in Springdale that long predate the arrival of the interstate in Northwest Arkansas.

Another such restaurant, Fred's Hickory Inn in Bentonville, was sold last year to new owners and has since been renamed.

Print Headline: AQ Chicken House to close


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