Betty Knows Best – SRQIST :: SRQ magazine article by Ariel Chates

No sibling rivalry here – Gladys and Gina Jean work better together when making their fried chicken sandwiches. Photograph by Wyatt Kostygan

The year? 2019. What’s in the news? Popeyes ran out of sandwiches. The people? To put it mildly, they were losing their minds. In the midst of this madness, two business-savvy sisters saw an opportunity to give people what they so desperately wanted: fried chicken. Armed with a life in the hospitality industry and a culinary education from their Haitian grandmother, Gladys and Gina Jean headed to Walmart at 2 a.m. to get the fixings and throw their hands in the ring — or coop. And their confidence in the kitchen – influenced by their grandmother – made them bite into something they knew could rival the competition. “We would be in the kitchen and our grandmother would say, ‘Look at me. Watch how I do this or cut this. And, even if we didn’t know it, we unconsciously learned,” laughs Gina. “Then she would come into the kitchen the next day and say, ‘Make beans and rice!’ And I realized that I knew how to cook it from watching it so many times. We’ve been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family since we were 10.

THE ORIGINAL BETTY BARNYARD CONTAINS CHEESE, BACON, SPECIAL SAUCE, LETTUCE, TOMATO AND SAILOR. PHOTOGRAPH BY WYATT KOSTYGAN

Now the sisters cook their own creation of fried chicken to an endless line of customers at their hidden gem, Barnyard Betty, which is tucked away in the Oneco Farmers Market in Bradenton. The brick-and-mortar stall was a much-needed upgrade after the sisters’ original home kitchen operation became an overnight sensation. “It was madness! We had city workers, Amazon trucks, FedEx drivers, blood drive buses, even police cars started coming for their lunch,” Gladys recalled. “Our little brother and sister would get off the school bus, still with their backpacks, and start heading towards the cars wrapped around the block for orders.” The sisters’ famous fried chicken sandwich and homemade lemonade even had people calling at 3 a.m. to avoid the rush of orders the next day.

The Buffalo Barnyard Betty adds Mild Buffalo Sauce and Ranch Dressing.  Photograph by Wyatt Kostygan

BUFFALO BARNYARD BETTY ADD LIGHT BUFFALO SAUCE AND RANCH DRESSING. PHOTOGRAPH BY WYATT KOSTYGAN

Now working full-time at the Market, seven days a week, noon and night, Gladys and Gina show no signs of slowing down. And their clientele (or “cousins” as they call them) can’t get enough of it. “We started calling our customers ‘cousins’ very early on. They felt like family and now as we grow we feel like they are growing with us,” the Jean sisters say. “We shout orders like this: ‘Cousin so-and-so, fried chicken!’ and it’s taken. They’ll come to the counter now and say, “I pick up for cousin Bridget.” They are part of the journey. It’s incredible.” SRQ

Barnyard Betty, 5108 15th Street E. Bradenton, FL

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