Charlotte Hjelm let out a squeal of glee when she heard that Chet’s had been named the favorite spot to go for chicken in Douglas County.
In 1953 Charlotte’s husband, Chester Hjelm, started Chet’s Lakeside in Parkers Prairie. Throughout his childhood, Chester cooked alongside his mother, and eventually developed his own chicken recipe, which he calls Swedish chicken.
“We are totally old school,” Charlotte noted. “Nobody – at least around here, still uses the wet batter recipe.”
Unlike usual deep-fried food, Chet’s chicken has a golden hue and is served without a hint of grease. The thin, crunchy skin encases plump, moist meat that can be served either white or dark.
Like their chicken, Chet’s itself hasn’t changed much either.
“I haven’t changed anything about the tables, nor the interior because people have memories here,” Charlotte noted. “We add stuff though. People from all over bring us chicken ornaments. We tried to count them once, but lost track. There are hundreds and no two are alike.”
From musky fishermen to fourth generation friends, Chet’s is always welcoming.
Dinners are also served with potatoes and unlimited trips to the salad bar, which includes potato salad and coleslaw. Whipped chocolate mousse is also available for dessert.
Though Chester passed away many years ago, his family still runs the business.
“My heart is so full, thank you – each and every one,” Charlotte said. “Without our customer base, Chet’s would not be here. My entire family is overjoyed.”
2nd: Kentucky Fried Chicken
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