Gus’s Fried Chicken: The Story Behind the Hearse

Customers who frequent Gus’s Fried Chicken in East Memphis have surely noticed the white hearse parked on the embankment behind the restaurant. The hearse is hard to miss. It’s decorated with a colorful plastic rooster on the roof and large letters that say this: “Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken – Chicken to Die For.”


Curious about the connection between the hearse and the restaurant, I called owner Tripp Carter the other day to get the lowdown. Carter said he acquired the original Gus’s hearse when he had an automotive repair shop and used it to promote the downtown Gus’s on Front Street when he opened the restaurant 12 years ago.


It was a funny promotional thing,” he said. “We’d drive it around town to pick up supplies, and everybody loved it.”


When Carter decided to open Gus’s on South Mendenhall in East Memphis, a second hearse topped his must-have list. “I said we have to buy a hearse before we do anything,” he recalled, laughing. “And so we did.”


These days the hearse and its horn that clucks (no kidding) are popular with customers who appreciate its curb appeal. Carter said, “People have a lot of fun with it. There’s always someone outside taking a picture.”

730 S. Mendenhall Road (901) 767-2323

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