Chicken Bucket is located near the Food Lion in Mount Holly in a small building that used to be a doctor’s office.
Bright-red sun shades might catch the eye, as well as the large sign, but it’s an unassuming storefront that honestly doesn’t look like all that much. However, looks can be deceiving, especially in this case. The restaurant is an absolute gem of an eatery with delicious made-from-scratch food options. It’s most certainly worth a second look, and might even became a new favorite place to grab some amazing grub.
Macario Borja began in the restaurant business when he came to the U.S. from Mexico. After more than 13 years of working for other people and learning every side of the trade, from bussing tables to prepping food to working the register, he decided he wanted a place of his own.
“It’s everybody’s dream to work for themselves,” said Borja. “For so many years I worked for others, now I just work for myself.”
So when the Chicken Bucket went up for sale, he slowly worked himself into purchasing the restaurant. First he became manager and worked with the former owner, then he took over all operations and finally he bought the place in 2017.
“I didn’t take a day off for two years,” said Borja. “It was hard work, but it’s been worth it.”
The name Chicken Bucket is a bit of a misnomer because it brings up old-school images of thighs, wings and legs randomly popping up from a red-and-white-striped pail. And while the restaurant does indeed have that delicious bucket option, there are also hamburgers, salads, wings, boneless wings, sandwiches, seafood plates and wraps.
It has a vast menu full of homemade items that is sure to have something for everyone. Do not miss the Philly cheesesteak with a gooey mix of cheese and meat that is absolutely delectable. There are also many options for seafood such as flounder, Calabash shrimp, tilapia, whitefish and more.
Borja “cooks with a lot of soul,” said manager Casey Watson. “He has learned how to make the best fried chicken, collard greens, fried squash and so on. He’s amazing.”
Almost everything on the menu is made from scratch, including all salad dressings, all sauces, dumplings, gravy, potato salad, chicken salad, coleslaw and more. The wings are served “naked,” so if a customer wants them breaded, it takes an extra 10 minutes.
“We just have to hand-bread them and get them cooked to order,” said Watson.
Watson runs the front-of-store operations with a breezy air of amiable affection for every guest that is rarely seen in the hospitality business these days.
“I don’t know strangers,” Watson said. “I love to greet our regulars and new people alike. We’re hoping to get even more people in this summer by having bands out on the patio.”
So from older gentlemen to young couples, families to motorcycle riders, all are heartily welcomed and made to feel at home from the moment they step in the door.
And the restaurant has many regulars. Derek Aiken of Mount Holly eats at Chicken Bucket daily, even on his day off from work.
“The prices are amazing, and there’s such a variety of menu options that you can come over and over and not get the same thing twice,” said Aiken. “But I do have my favorites!”
For Borja, it was hard work in the beginning and now he’s seeing the fruit of that labor with more customers walking in the door. “This has been an amazing opportunity to own my own place,” said Borja. “I worked hard and am grateful for my customers.”