Recently a local restaurant was bestowed a highly acclaimed honor.

Recently a local restaurant was bestowed a highly acclaimed honor.

Carl’s Corner in Essig has been named WCCO Viewers’ Choice for Minnesota’s Best Fried Chicken.

Matt Brickman, co-host of WCCO-TV Saturday Morning Show, traveled to Essig to talk to owners Pat and Kenny Berg and taste what viewers voted as the best fried chicken in the state.

Every week, Matt takes viewer votes in his “Best of Minnesota” series. Carl’s Corner was nominated by loyal customers and then viewers were asked to vote from a panel of 15 others. Carl’s Corner received just under 2,000 votes.

Kenny Berg said Matt Brickman’s request for viewers to submit their favorite chicken restaurant resulted in over 300 nominations that was eventually narrowed down to a list of 15 restaurants. Viewers then voted for who they believed had the best chicken in Minnesota.

“We beat out the town of Randy, which is the same size as Essig,” Kenny added.

Owner Pat Berg said business has picked up considerably since the segment ran on WCCO. But then again, Carl’s Corner is generally a busy place, sometimes with lines extending outside the building for people waiting to get in and have a bite to eat. Odds are, most people line up for the chicken.

“On a busy night, if we do 150-200 dinners, three-fourths of them are going to be chicken,” Pat said. “I felt really bad we had regulars who couldn’t get in this past weekend.” 

The owners say they simply follow an age-old recipe passed down from Carl Rolloff who originally started Carl’s Corner, who, at one time, both the brothers worked for.

“We marinate it overnight for 24 hours, then we dust it up and then we throw it in the Broaster. It’s pretty simple,” said Kenny.

Kenny added that the broaster is what makes all the difference giving the chicken a crispy golden brown skin on the outside and steaming, hot chicken that is juicier with less grease than most fried chicken.

But for the people of Essig, Carl’s Corner is more than just chicken. It’s what brings the community together.

“When the original Carl’s Corner burned down, the town was lost without it,” said Pat Berg.

So Carl rebuilt it.

And when Pat and Kenny took over for him 25 years ago, they said they were smart enough to not change what Carl started.

In addition to sticking with what works, the brothers said that without their loyal customers and employees, they wouldn’t have had their 15 minutes of fame.

“Our employees are really good and they haven’t gotten the credit they deserve out of this,” Pat said. “Without them we wouldn’t be here.”