A new YouTube video gives a quick overview of the highs and lows that one of the nation’s premiere chicken quick-service-restaurants – Church’s Chicken – has gone through since its inception in 1952.

And while I didn’t fact-check the video, I found it interesting and entertaining. It is certainly worth checking out.

The video, titled “Church’s Chicken – The Rise and Fall … and Rise Again,” is available on the Company Man channel and made its YouTube debut on July 27. As of the following morning, had garnered nearly 91,000 views.

As a fan of nostalgia and obscure brands, I’ve enjoyed watching videos on this channel, such as the ones that highlight the decline of stores I once went to like Kmart, Radio Shack and Payless Shoe Source. But this video more so highlights how Church’s Chicken bounced back from hard times and appears to be bigger now than it ever had been in the past.

And what a wild ride it has been, according to this video.

Church’s Chicken, the video chronicled, was founded in 1952 by the company’s namesake, George W. Church. Church had made a living selling incubators, and with more people driving than at any other point in history, he saw an opportunity to make money from those on-the-go customers. Turning to chicken, he could “take advantage of that in a way that was familiar to him.”

The first location was in San Antonio, right near the Alamo. Selling only chicken to go, it was designed as a high-volume, low margin concept. The business, then known as Church’s Fried Chicken, would grow into four locations during George’s lifetime.

But with the death of the founder, his family took over ownership of the company in 1956, with his son Bill Church taking over the leadership role. At that point, it started to grow into low-income urban areas, typically overlooked at the time by Kentucky Fried Chicken, now known as KFC.

The business accelerated its growth in 1969, when it became publicly traded. But by 1985, the sales began to falter, and the video points out some of those suspected reasons.

Church’s was purchased in 1989 by Popeyes founder Al Copeland, and the video’s narrator described how the number of Church’s locations dwindled in what appeared to be a strategy to “suck the life out of Church’s to help grow the Popeyes brand. The move nearly proved devastating to both businesses, but both businesses have emerged from bankruptcy, and are now thriving.

The chain is now owned by High Bluff Capital Partners, the parent company of Quiznos and Taco Del Mar.

Food for thought

It was cool to apply the knowledge gained from this video to my own experiences with the chain. The Church’s Chicken restaurant location with which I was most familiar, closed during the period of decline/bankruptcy. That building now houses an Asian food restaurant where you seldom see any customers. Church’s never returned to that town.

Then, in 2015, fewer Church’s restaurants were in the region because a franchisee who operated numerous Church’s locations in Kansas and Oklahoma found itself in financial trouble.

However, two years later, a new franchisee brought six Church’s locations back to the Wichita area.

Today, Church’s seems to be on solid footing, and even has its place in the chicken sandwich wars.

And wouldn’t you know, after watching this video, I’m now jonesing for some Church’s Chicken.