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Louie's reopening in Tallassee

By Michael Butler

Doug Cannon, who opened Louie's Chicken Fingers in 2012 in Tallassee, is opening it back up next month. Louie's will reopen its doors on July 7 at 1410 Gilmer Avenue.

Cannon opened his original Louie's in the Auburn area thanks to good friend and former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville.

"In 2010, Coach Tuberville and I were riding down the road. There was a sign at Moore's Mill that said, 'Publix Coming Soon.' They were also putting in a strip center. I looked at Tommy and staid, 'What do you think?' He said, 'Let's put up a Tubby's Catfish.' His sister in Tullahoma, Tenn. has one.

"I signed the lease on the building, not Tommy. They get the building built and Tommy takes the Texas Tech job. I called and said, 'Coach what are we going to to do about the Tubby's?' He said, 'You'll figure something out."

The opportunity opened another door for Cannon, who has a construction business.

"Louie's is my dog. My daughter came up with the name Louie's Chicken Fingers. She came up with the logo. Most people knew Louie more than they knew me as a builder. He rode in my truck with me. My wife hated Louie. Every morning she wanted to give him away, so I'd take him to work with me. That's how Louie's got started.

"I opened five stores in four years. Now, the only Louie's left is going to be the one in Tallassee. The ones in Auburn will change the name. Nobody's going to do it the way I do it. My dad said, 'Don't give it 100 percent. Give it 110 percent.' It's just as easy to give it 110 as it is 100. My motto is QSC; Quality, Service, Cleanliness. When I open this store in Tallassee again, it will be right."

Cannon (center) with Linda and David Mosher in 2012. Cannon originally considered the Mosher's property on Jordan Avenue for his restaurant.

The building on Gilmer Avenue that Cannon purchased was originally a Taco Bell and KFC. It was also where Acapulco Mexican Grill was located before moving down Gilmer Avenue.

"It's a brand new building on the outside. It has been eight years since I've had it. It's time to redo the kitchen."

Although the business has "chicken fingers" in the name, there is a lot more on the menu.

"It should be Louie's Catfish, because we probably sell more catfish than chicken fingers," Cannon noted. "I'm a cook. When Tommy was in Auburn, he had a rib cookoff for the coaches. He always asked me to cook for him. I won seven years."

Cannon said his roots in the kitchen came from being at his grandmother's house in Tallassee.

"I grew up with my grandmother. She was a cook. When I opened Louie's, I did my mother's hushpuppies. I did my dad's catfish. The chicken fingers just came along. With chicken fingers you think fried chicken. All three of my kids are diabetic, so I made sure I was going to do the grilled fingers. I wanted to make sure we had more options than fries and slaw. That's when I brought the green beans in, the broccoli, okra, sweet potato soufle, purple hull peas."

In addition, Louie's serves chicken salads, wings and burgers.

"We're excited to open back up. It's going to be good. We saw reviews that people didn't like. I wasn't here during that time. If you go back and look when I opened up in 2012, they were lined up to the hardware store to get in the building."

Louie's will be open for lunch and dinner daily.

"We're looking forward to it," Tallassee Chamber of Commerce Director Jerry Cunningham said. "We're so glad (Doug) is bringing it back. It was a good thing. I know I enjoyed it. It's great for our community and so glad that he takes such pride in it."

Cannon will possibly be balancing time in Tallassee and Lee County where he won the primary for a county commission seat.

"I won the Republican primary on March 3. I don't have a runoff. Tommy does," Cannon said of his friend Tommy Tuberville who is running for the U.S. Senate. "My next election will be Nov. 3. I hope then I'll win it. I'll represent Auburn, Loachapoka and Waverly."

How does Cannon handle so many tasks?

"I have to stay busy. If I'm not busy, I'm bored. We can go to the beach and my wife says, 'You're good for two days and you're ready to go home.' I've got a farm in Dadeville also. When I'm up at the lake, I'm going to the farm and work with the cows and donkeys."

Cannon offered some of those donkeys to a friend who was having a coyote problem. It was Pat Dye, another former Auburn coach. He passed away on June 1.

"Coach Dye came to me about two years ago at Louie's in Auburn. He said, 'I've got coyote problems.' I said, 'Have you got any donkeys?' He said, 'No." I said, 'I've got about 13.' He said, 'What would you take for them?' I said, 'I'll give them to you.' He came up and got six of them. It took care of them. He's going to be missed in Auburn."