It just occurred to me that, back in the mid-80s, when on a road trip with friends,
we ate at a restaurant (chain/franchise, I believe) called “Po Boys” (with the slogan “We’re po’, but we’re proud”) which served fried chicken, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes & other starchy fatty generic Southern foods (no actual “po boys” AFAIK). I was not impressed & I like homey-style restaurants
(I’m always up for Cracker Barrel or Bob Evans!).
Anyway, I googled & found a few remote references in journal entries & news stories, but nothing definitive as to the present existence of “Po Boys” as a restuarant chain (I found several restaurants named that, but which seemed to specialize in genuine Southern food including the po’boy sandwiches.)
There is a Po’Boys in Gainesville, Florida that is New Orleans/Cajun themed. They have a pretty good menu and decent prices, but it couldn’t possibly be the same kind of Southern home-cookin’ place you mentioned.
My dad used to take me and my sister there once or twice a month. The things I remember most were the hokey “country” menus, that they served Upper 10 in mason jars instead of Seven Up, and that we always got a moon pie at the end.
Maybe you’re thinking of PoFolks. We used to like to take the kids there because PoFolks gave them a free chicken drumstick or peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Alas, there aren’t any PoFolks left here in SC.
There is another chain that used to be called Po’ Folks, which now just calls itself “Folks.” Sugar with a few drops of water and food coloring served in Mason jars. Food-shaped hot grease. That sort of “cuisine”.
In Orange County (CA) Po’ Folks at one time had two restaurants, one in Buena Park, and one in Huntington Beach across the street from Goldenwest College. The Huntington Beach location was closed (and its location converted into another restaurant unaffiliated with any chain AFAIK) by 1995. The Buena Park store is still open, and shares a parking lot with Movieland Wax Museum. It is about half a mile north of Knott’s Berry Farm, on Beach Blvd.
They recently discontinued All-You-Can-Eat Chicken, Fish, and Country Fried Steak offerings on their menu. But they’re still probably the best place in the county to go to for hush puppies.
I know there used to be at least one Po’Folks here in Memphis (tho’ I’m thinking there may have actually been two), but it closed down many years ago and was turned into an Outback in the last few years. There was also one out in Norfolk, VA (actually, it might have been on the VA Beach side of the line, now that I recall), but it closed a few years ago as well.
Po’ Folks was the national chain founded in Chamblee. I know, cause I lived there - it easily had the best fried chicken you could find in any restaurant. IIRC, the restaurant was located on Peachtree-Dunwoody Rd close to the intersection of Chamblee-Dunwoody (near Chamblee High School.) They went on a national hyper-expansion stage from about 1981-1988, went bankrupt in 1989, eventually sold or closed all their non-Atlanta stores, and started afresh as “Folks.”
Oddly enough, two of the three restaurants that I went to in the ATL are now closed - the original location and the one in Tucker, on Lawrenceville Hwy.
When I was in college in the late '80s, a PoFolks opened in Fairfax, VA. I remember seeing a flyer advertising their Grand Opening Specials on a desk in my English class. That location lasted only a few years and the building now houses an Outback Steakhouse.