Chicken Unlimited in Eau Claire, WI

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Internet research turns up a bit — but only a bit — of information about the once mighty chain called Chicken Unlimited. It got its start in Hinsdale, Illinois in the 1960s. It once had restaurants in locations as distant as Florida, Barbados, and the Bahamas. At its peak, it was hundreds of restaurants strong; at the present, a location in Eau Claire, WI, may be the last operating franchise. A corporate bankruptcy and mass closing in the ’70s seems to have been the turning point.

The passing of this chicken-fueled giant is both a piece of obscure Midwestern trivia and a bit tragic — if the quality of the operation as a whole can be judged from the remaining, more than 40-year-old Eau Claire location, we’ve lost a tasty treasure.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Eau Claire’s Chicken Unlimited isn’t much to look at — it’s a little strip-mall diner that can’t seat more than a few dozen customers total. But the fried chicken itself ($6 for four pieces) is quite competently executed — a jacket of crispy, lightly herbed, and evenly applied breading covers up moist, savory meat. Milkshakes and malts are not overly sweet, quite tasty, and simple yet honest, and the hot wings are (according to at least one school of thought) about as good as they get. The wings ($5.50 for six) have a tangy, lingering kick that is neither overpowering nor wimpy, and the same moist chicken lurks beneath the light, crispy skin. Like Frank’s Red Hot (as opposed to Tabasco), the wings have a heat with depth.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

If you’re not particularly in the mood for chicken, the menu also offers burgers, fish and hot ham and cheese sandwiches, fried fish, and hot dogs; an ice cream counter offers a number of different daily special flavors.

Travelers taking 90 / 94 to or from Madison should consider adding Chicken Unlimited to their lunch agenda, if only so the chain doesn’t finally surrender completely and pass, unheralded, into the void. Plus, the chicken’s damn good.

Chicken Unlimited
Fried Chicken in Eau Claire, WI

1410 S Hastings Way
Eau Claire, WI 54701
OWNERS: Dan and Mary Sederstrom
Daily 11:30am-8pm
BAR: None
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Not Unless You Count Grilled Cheese / No

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table


  1. Gator

    I remember the jingle from their radio commercials:

    It’s Chicken Unlimited, but it’s more than that,
    It’s burgers and hot dogs and shrimp and fish.

    They say you can’t please everyone all the time, or can you?
    Chicken Unlimited, Chicken Unlimited….

    My memory of Chicken Unlimited was being in one of their franchise in Florida and the cashier wanting to know if their were enough chicken breasts to fill a customers order so she got on the P.A. and said, “Julie, how many breasts do you have?” The whole restaurant erupted in laughter.

  2. C. U. Fan

    I have eaten at this place for the 40 years,owners before the current Dan and Mary,tried to change the food, and it cost them the business.Thank God its back to the original Great fries!!!!

  3. Norb Gleisner

    I’m the guy who originally started this store. It was interesting to find this website. The pictures show that hardly anything has changed from that date in 1969 (I think) when I and my partner John Lorinser gave birth to it. I live in Florida now, but if I should ever get back to Eau Claire it’ll be interesting to meet the present owners and enjoy a chicken dinner there. It would be interesting to hear from the present owners who could send me an email at if they should feel so inclined.

    Norb Gleisner

    Norb Gleisner

  4. jane

    Thanks to this review, I finally got around to eating at this place. I’m not a big fan of eating food off the bone, but I did nibble almost all the delicious skin off, and ate most of one whole piece. Very good. My two dining companions have been there 3-4 times (again, thanks to this review), and they LOVE the chicken there. LOOOVE it.

    The cole slaw is quite good, with a little kick of horseradish or something.

    If you are on a Twin Cities to/from Chicago or Madison run, it is totally worth it to stop off in Eau Claire to eat here. It’s about 5 minutes from the freeway.

  5. John J

    My first job was at a Chicken Unlimited in Olympia Field, IL. It was my first and last job in the food service industry. Convinced me I better go to college and do something with my life. I stop here whenever I am in Eau Claire and the food is the same. I loved the shrimp and burgers when I worked there. Probably contributed to the stores downfall by the amount myself and the other employees ate.

  6. David Berchfield

    I remembered chicken unlimited from when i was a kid,I wish there was a way to bring it back to where kfc would have a run for it’s money.i can’t find the taste that chicken unlimited had or like i remember it.Keep on doing business.I want to see a chicken unlimited in somerset ky,

    David Berchfield

  7. Set The CU Record Straight

    CU Fan – How incorrect you are. I worked for the owners previous to Dan and Mary and the owners before them and Dan and Mary and the fries have NEVER been changed, not even the oil they fry them in was changed, nothing. You must not be as big of a “CU Fan” as your name implies.

  8. Linda Duncan

    Hey, does anyone have a recipe for this chicken. I loved the taste and can’t find anything that even comes close! Thanks.

  9. David Berchfield

    I want so much to restore my favorite restaurant. To It’s former glory.i love you chicken childhood is still waiting to be saved.

  10. Byron sessoms

    Hello, Here in florida, our last store closed in Tampa. I always
    went out of way to drive by to eat. I loved it!!!! I hate its gone
    i wish more stores would come back. Me and my family would go.
    Would beat KFC hands down!!! Its a shame companies just don’t get it.
    That fact changes have been made have ruined to many places!
    KFC is not really a KFC. The chicken is so different. Not even close to
    what is was 30 yrs. ago! same for Churchs Fried Chicken. Not even close
    to the same. Thats why we as customers went to these places because they were different, each was so good!!
    special and at a good price. Now look at them. They think the answer is to
    raise the prices. American Companies. can be great great again if they want to.
    More power to you chicken unlimited and Burger Queen!Thanks for being there
    39725 river road, dade city,florida 33525, Byron Sessoms

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