No Ordinary Chicken: Lloyd’s Serves 23,000 Birds A Year

by Dave on September 23, 2010

by Pam George

At least once or twice a week, Matt DiSabatino tucks into the quintessential comfort food: rotisserie chicken. But DiSabatino is not carving the chicken at one of his three Lewes restaurants—Striper Bites, Half Full and Kindle. His chicken dinner comes from Lloyd’s Market on Savannah Road in Lewes, whose WondeRoast chicken display is located front and center at the landmark grocery store.

The chicken has become a surprise treat. His wife will tease him by saying, “I went shopping today.” She will pause before adding, “And I bought you a chicken.” He grins ear to ear. “They’re so good, I could eat a whole chicken myself,” he says.

Apparently, many folks agree. Lloyd’s sells about 23,000 rotisserie chickens a year—about 60 to 80 chickens a day, depending on the season, says Darren Purcell, the manager, whose parents, Lloyd and Dottie Purcell have owned the market since 1973.

The staff starts cooking chickens as early as 8 a.m. “We have people walking in the door at 9 a.m. asking if they are ready,” Darren Purcell says. (The chickens take about an hour and a half to cook.)

Lloyd Purcell first encountered the WondeRoast at a food show 30 years ago. The chicken has been a staple offering ever since. For tourists, eating the rotisserie chicken is as much a tradition as getting ice cream at King’s. For locals, it is part of living in Lewes.

Ever enterprising, Lloyd Purcell also came up with the idea for some spinoffs, including ribs and sliced roast beef, both sprinkled with the WondeRoast seasoning.

The seasoning—a blend that includes salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and natural smoke flavor—turns the chicken a classic golden hue and it perfumes the market. “I go home smelling like chicken every day,” Purcell says. And that is not a bad thing.

The cooked chickens, which sell for $7.25, are nestled into a tray and tucked into insulated bags. Customers simply open the door and pull out a bag. Then, of course, they will need sides. Lloyd’s stocks containers of cole slaw, German potato salad and macaroni salad. In summer, you can pick up local produce. “It doesn’t get much better than our chicken with local corn and tomatoes,” Purcell says.

Each chicken is about 3 ½ pounds before cooking, which means a family of four will need at least two. Indeed, a sign on the door as you leave asks if you have enough chicken. Do you need another?

If a whole chicken is too much, you can buy a half chicken with two rolls for $4.29 each. Lloyd’s also sells platters: a half chicken, two salads and to rolls for $5.75. Recently, Beebe Medical Center ordered 20 platters for a function.

It actually takes two ovens to keep up with the supply, although only one is visible. Lloyd’s only cooks about two to three racks of ribs a day—priced at $7.75 a pound—so order ahead or go to Lloyd’s early in the day to snag them.

The chicken is one way that Lloyd’s differentiates itself. The market also butchers meat in house and vacuum seals it so it does not discolor during freezing. Along with selling local produce—lima beans are on tap now—the market offers fresh bread and baked goods from Steve Kogler’s Old World Bread. Purcell is considering featuring organic items.

With Food Lion just down the street, it pays to stand out from the big brand competition. WondeRoast, many would agree, does that wonderfully.

Lloyd’s Market is located at 611 Savannah Rd.  Call 302-645-6589.

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