Opening their first restaurant but not their first business, Clarence Prince Jr. and Stephanie Prince know not to make promises until they are certain. So B&B's Chicken Basket at 193 W. Main St. is tentatively predicted, but not promised, to open Feb. 1.
"I'm praying for February 1, but there are no promises," said Stephanie Prince. "I've got my fingers crossed."
Originally from New York, she has owned an Atlanta-area company, M&S Commercial Cleaning Services, for more than 10 years.
Clarence Prince Jr., who was born and grew up in a Bulloch County farm family and graduated from Statesboro High School, left the area to pursue a career with the Georgia State Patrol. He and Stephanie Terrelonge met in Atlanta nine years ago. They've been married almost three years. Their twins, Brooklynn and Brayden, are 10 months old, and now you know who "B" and "B" are.
When Clarence Prince retired from the State Patrol, he and his wife decided to open a business, "back here at home," as he put it. He retired in mid-2014 with the rank of sergeant and 32 years of service.
The Princes had been Statesboro residents four days when they were interviewed Jan. 6. As he explained, they bought the building while still living in Atlanta and began renovating it.
A new business seems like a lot to take on with babies, right?
"It's a lot," she said, and he agreed, "It's a lot."
"But we're going to manage," she said.
They have a friend of the family working as an on-site babysitter for the twins.
Meanwhile, someone's workpants-covered lower half, apparently an electrician's, was visible on a stepladder as his head and arms worked above the ceiling panels inside what will be the front of B&B's Chicken Basket. New-looking tea, coffee and soft drink dispensers sat on a steel table and counter nearby.
In what from there is the back of the building, a commercial freezer and refrigerator waited to be moved to the front. Meanwhile, the Princes were expecting delivery this week of a pressure fryer. They ordered it in November, but then were told that the supplier would be closed for both Christmas and New Year's.
This is one example of the things Stephanie Prince said present the greatest challenges to opening a new, independent business - timing things right and dealing with unexpected setbacks.
"I had planned for one thing, but things happen their own way," she said.
More significantly, the building had been damaged by a fire in its past, necessitating more extensive renovations.
"So we had to redo everything - new electrical all the way through, just everything had to be redone," she said. "And then you have to get all of these people lined up, plumbing, electrician ... everything in synch."
A poultried past
The location carries strong past associations with fried chicken. Just about everyone the Princes have talked to about it has called it "the old Uncle Shug's." Uncle Shug's Chicken Barn moved to its current location at U.S. Highway 301 South and the bypass in 2006. A different chicken place operated more recently from the building the Princes have bought at the intersection of West Main and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Clarence Prince remembers a much earlier business at this location.
"Growing up here, I used to come here with my great-grandfather," he said. "This was an ice house - we used to get big blocks of ice here - and a fish house. I remember it from way back, probably the mid to late 1960s."
The restaurateurs-to-be say that the B&B's Chicken Basket menu will start very simple: fried chicken, chicken strips, livers and gizzards, fries, coleslaw and rolls.
They may add fish on Fridays.
"We're going to grow the menu as business grows," he said.
They have a chief cook hired who used to work in Georgia Southern University's food services, she said.
Stephanie Prince first wanted to open a laundromat at this spot. But demand for a restaurant convinced her otherwise, at least for openers.
"Every time we would come here to visit, everyone would just say, ‘You're opening a restaurant? You're going to open it? You're going to?'" she said.
But the kitchen and service windows will occupy just the east-facing portion of the 2,300-square-foot building. It will operate as a walk-up, with no interior seating. But the Princes plan to install some outside tables, with chairs and umbrellas, in the spring.
Eventually she would like to put a laundromat in the other part of the building, she said.
For now, the restaurant is awaiting finishing touches and city and Health Department inspections.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.