A Piece of Carlisle
Stam's Fried Chicken has been in Carlisle for 46 years. Mr. Stam has been able to stay in business for that long selling primarily fried chicken. I went to Stam's and learned about what he serves now, and how his service has developed over almost half a century.
The fact finder is quick to see that Stam's Fried Chicken on High Street serves fried chicken pieces, and chicken dinners rotisserie style, as well as cole slaw, potato salad and crab cakes. If cholesterol is not your dish, stay away from the store with a chicken flag hanging above its door. Stam's is open daily until 6 pm, but it is best to go in the afternoon when there is still a lot to choose from. Mrs. Stam cooks, Mr. Stam manages, and they have one man who helps them with unloading shipments, and cleaning.
Robert Stam is from Milton, PA, where he worked in a factory building airplane engines. He realized the industry was "feast or famine," so he and his wife decided to try something new. They followed a traveling fair, selling their wares. They traveled through Williamstown, down to Carlisle. The Stams did not make any money, and spent their last dollar in Carlisle. Viewing it as a good omen of business that they spent their last bit of cash in Carlisle, they borrowed some money and opened a small business, hoping others would spend their money too. This was 46 years ago, when Bobby Stam came to Carlisle with "nothing but determination" and some good family recipes.
The historian can deduce that Stam's continued success is tied to his original intentions: to sell good fried chicken. Stam had been attracted to Carlisle because, of everything on the market in those days, Carlisle was "the most high priced." Also, compared to other towns he had traveled through, Carlisle had the best "service and quality." He saw that if he worked to maintain that level of quality, he could make some good money. Mr. Stam was able to send four children through college while managing this seemingly small establishment. His chicken breast or leg is 95 cents, and the reason he can charge "that much" relates to his commitment to excellence. His front sign says, in large red lettering, "Chicken at its Best!" Stam said that his secret was freshness; his chickens come from Virginia and he does not freeze them, but prepares and marinades them to get ready to cook. It took two hands to hold the delicious leg piece whose freshness was evident. The crunchy fried skin was not too greasy and there was lots of tender meat.
For a quick bite to eat, Stam's Fried Chicken is a good choice. His chicken buffet it close to campus, the food is very inexpensive, and it is delicious.