WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The "freshest" chicken in Wilmington arguably comes from the Hardee's on Carolina Beach Road. A live hen has been hanging out at the restaurant for months and won't budge.
Regulars call her "the one who got away" and joke that she (or he) is standing in protest against poultry eaters.
"No, he's not a normal chicken," said Marilyn Johnson, Hardee's General Manager.
She's affectionately known as the "Hardee's Hen" and the staff jokes that she's a sort of "guardian" making sure they serve fresh fried chicken daily.
You can see this hen strutting her stuff outside in the parking lot, drive-thru and sidewalk most days of the week.
"Why would he be here?" asked 5th grader Olivia Kennedy. "He doesn't want to be cooked does he?"
Indeed, the Hardee Hen's rendezvous around the restaurant is daring but management says there are no plans to put her on the menu.
"You got your breast all out, walking around all high," joked Marilyn. "I guess you have plenty of charisma!"
Some customer's have tried to catch her and pet her, but she's quite snooty.
"She won't let you do that, she's very fast," said Andy Miceli, a Hardee's customer. "You have to know karate to catch that chicken!"
Customers have also caught her at KFC next door. She's been seen pecking on tires and walking near the dumpster. The hen's "double dipping" has started a friendly rivalry between the restaurants.
Don't be surprised if you see her outside chomping down on some nuggets.
"He seems to like it for some reason," said Marilyn. "As long as he likes it, our guests will like it too."
They certainly do, but little Olivia joked that she would probably switch to hamburgers after seeing her food flying around out front.
"'Cause I don't want the chicken to come back and stare at me and say 'Why are you eating chicken?'" she said.
The staff at Hardee's think the chicken most likely comes from a nearby small farm.