Shirley Wright hums to herself every Wednesday as she fixes chicken bowl after chicken bowl for a line of students winding out of the Student Center food court.
Wright, a server for Kickin’ Cajun, has been in Tech food services for seven years and has just started serving the chicken bowls this year in the fall quarter.
The chicken bowl has not been a dish served during Wright’s full seven years.
Robert Lubbert, resident district manager for food services, said the chicken bowl was added to the menu about two years ago.
“It took about six months for it to catch on and become popular,” Lubbert said. “Once it caught on though, we just couldn’t take it off the menu.”
He said on Wednesdays, Kickin’ Cajun sells about 400 chicken bowls compared to the 100 plates that are sold when pork chops are being served on a different day. Chicken bowls are their highest seller, he added.
“There’s just no comparison,” he said. “Although the other dishes taste just as good, there is just something about the chicken bowls that the students really like. It’s the combination of spices that really makes it yummy.”
Lubbert said the cooks, Cynthia Griffin and Eric Osha Brantley, are very experienced which produces the perfect combination of spices in the dish. He said the two have been cooks for Tech for six to eight years but have both been in food services for 15 years.
“They truly understand what the Cajun food is all about,” he said. “They do have a recipe that they adhere by, but Cynthia puts her love into it.”
Griffin adds extra seasonings as well which just make it perfect, he said.
“People who don’t normally come here will come on Wednesdays just for that dish,” Lubbert said. “It’s amazing.”
The people who do come here and eat in the student center regularly, whether at Kickin’ Cajun or somewhere else, will usually choose Kickin’ Cajun on Wednesdays, he said.
Drake Doumit, a sophomore psychology major, is one of those people.
“I eat the chicken bowl every Wednesday,” he said. “Everyone knows it is Monday, Tuesday, chicken-bowl day.”
Doumit said he thinks the chicken bowl is the best dish the student center has to offer.
“It’s the perfect mix of the chicken, the corn and the potatoes that tie it all together,” he said. “It’s basically awesome in a bowl.”
The chicken bowl is good for all students, Doumit said. Even his vegetarian friend gets one, just without the chicken, he added.
“Everyone loves chicken bowls,” he said. “I actually did not try the chicken bowl until about midway through last quarter, but I was hooked right away.”
Doumit said he thinks one reason the chicken bowl is so popular is because it is only served once a week.
“People can go get sushi or a burger every day,” he said. “The chicken bowl is like southern comfort, it’s special and overall delicious.”
The warm customer service that the workers provide enhances the great taste, Lubbert said. He and Wright both said great service is one big component to the bowl’s success.
“We’re giving students food they love with a friendly smile,” Wright said.
The students do love the chicken bowl, Lubbert said. Surveys have been conducted and in those he said the chicken bowl is the favorite.
“I’ve always been a firm believer that a place becomes expensive the moment you don’t get good service, a good atmosphere or good food,” he said. “Since all of our workers continue to do their job, the circle is complete and the students are happy.”
Email comments to kjk...@latech.edu.