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Pioneer Chicken, (or Pioneer Take Out, as it is officially named), is an American fried chicken restaurant which was founded in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles1 in 1961 by H.R. Kaufman. When Kaufman sold the chain in 1987, there were 270 stores operated by 220 franchisees.23 During the 1970s, several locations operated in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. There are three locations remaining in Los Angeles.
It was named after Pioneer Market, a now-defunct small chain of supermarkets in Los Angeles. The original location in Echo Park was located next to the 1980s era Pioneer Market (the original 1932 market having been torn down in the 1980s) and is (now a Walgreens Pharmacy) on Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. Due to considerable redevelopment activity in the neighborhood caused by gentrification, it was shut down in March 2009. During the 1980s, Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn and former football player O.J. Simpson used to advertise for the restaurant.
There are three remaining locations in the Los Angeles area: 1) 5970 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles (near San Vicente Blvd); 2) 904 S Soto Street, Los Angeles; and 3) 6323 Florence Avenue, Bell Gardens.
In 1983, three alumni from the University of Southern California decided to open a Pioneer Chicken franchise in Jakarta under the name California Fried Chicken.56 As of 2013, the parent company of the stores in Indonesia, Pioneerindo Gourmet International, currently have over 200 CFC restaurants throughout that nation.7 CFC had a few franchises in Shanghai during the 1990s, but they may not currently exist.8
Warren Zevon's song "Carmelita" refers to Pioneer Chicken: "I pawned my Smith Corona / And I went to meet my man / He hangs out down on Alvarado Street / By the Pioneer chicken stand". In The Aquabats' 1997 song "Magic Chicken!", the singer invites the listener to "Do the Pioneer!" during a funk breakdown where various chicken restaurant franchises are named.
In film, the opening of the movie The Last American Virgin shows a Pioneer Chicken location at the northeast corner of Hollywood & Western in the background as the protagonist Gary (Lawrence Monoson), drives off making a pizza delivery. The same location is shown in one scene in Death Wish II and towards the end of the Music video Rhythm Of The Night.
- Jessica Gelt (2009-03-24). "Pioneer Chicken kicks the bucket". Los Angeles Times.
- JESUS SANCHEZ; NANCY YOSHIHARA (1988-01-19). "A Takeover That Ended a Friendship: Pioneer Take-Out Founder, Purchaser at Odds Over Terms". Los Angeles Times.
- John Medearis (9 April 1991). "Pioneer Chicken Tries to Emerge From Its Second Bankruptcy". Los Angeles Times.
- "Pioneer Chicken Switches to Popeyes". Los Angeles Times. 10 June 1993.
- "Countries To Go" via LexisNexis. Adweek, May 20, 1985.
- "Company's profile and history (English translation)"(Original in Indonesian)
- "California Fried Chicken Grows 21%". Indonesia Today, March 23, 2013.
- "KFC Rules Shanghai's Fast-Food Roost With Ads, Training and Giveaways". Wall Street Journal, December 2, 1997.