If the name of soon-to-be-opened Boxcar Betty’s sounds familiar, it should. Betty, a fictional hobo character popularized during the Great Depression by author, anarchist, and whorehouse physician Ben Lewis Reitman, became famous in the 1937 book Sister of the Road: The Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha
. (Note: Reitman was also the lover of famous political activist Emma Goldman.) But how does that connect to fried chicken sandwiches the likes of which the new 1922 Savannah Hwy. restaurant Boxcar Betty’s will serve? Co-owner Ian MacBryde explains, “We have an underlying railroad theme, but it isn’t going to be in your face. Some sandwiches are named after railroads like the Box Car and Farm Car, and there’s a certain level of industrial feel to the restaurant with corrugated metal and some design elements that incorporate that. But it’s not in your face — there isn’t a train circling on the roof.” As far as ties to the Boxcar Betty character and her infamous author, MacBryde says there’s no connection. “We’re not starting any political factions,” he says.
MacBryde and co-owner Roth Scott met while working at Magnolias and have both long wanted to open their own business. “Roth asked me to come on board six months ago,” says MacBryde. “We focus on fried chicken sandwiches because we don’t feel like any quick casual restaurant does it well. We feel like Charleston deserves a better class of fried chicken sandwich and we’re gonna give it to them,” adds Scott. They plan to open the restaurant late April in the former Olympic Deli. The menu at Boxcar Betty’s will include six takes on the fried chicken sandwich like the aforementioned Box Car, featuring pimento cheese, peach slaw, spicy mayo, and housemade pickles. Handcut fries, sodas, and floats are also on the menu in addition to kid-friendly chicken strips. Unfortunately no anarchist interpretations have been slated, but here’s hoping a bun-less fried chicken — who rejects diner authority and the toppings of sandwich society — joins the menu soon.
Visit boxcarbetty.com for more details.