Remembering Roy Mims
He gave up job in education to work magic with chicken
You get a lot more than chicken when you sink your teeth into one of Roy Mims’ chicken fingers.
These crispy, zesty strips of deep-fried meat are good enough to make a herd of cows dance with joy. They’re a popular menu item at Hartselle’s Dari-Delite, where they’re available in a snack of three, dinner of five, box of 18, tub of 36 or bucket of 54.
Mims, who died Jan. 11 at age 78, developed the recipe for his “fingers” with the help of his family 42 years ago.
“My brothers and I were growing boys at the time,” recalled Cameron Mims. “Our dad would fry chicken fingers at work and bring them home for us to eat. He’d ask us how they tasted and if he didn’t get a thumbs up from us three boys and our mom, he’d start over. That went on for awhile until all four of us agreed that his recipe was just right.”
A family secret, the recipe calls for fresh, chilled chicken breasts to be cut up into same-size strips, marinated overnight and breaded with a special blend of spices before they’re fried the next day.
“The preparation process means extra work,” Mims said, “but it’s worth it when you’re pleasing your customers and they’re coming back for more.”
The reputation of Dari-Delite’s chicken fingers far exceeds Hartselle’s city limits.
“We attract customers from throughout Morgan County,” Mims said, “and from time to time we’ll have someone driving through stop and place an order because they were recommended by a friend or family member.”
“Our dad was a hands-on businessman,” he said. “He loved nothing more than to make his customers happy, and he asked nothing more of his family and employees than what he would do himself.
“He was also creative when it came to promoting the business and staying a step ahead of the competition,” Mims added. “When Kyle, Todd (deceased) and I were in school, he’d give us commemorative wooden nickels to pass out to other students, and when we got home we’d place advertising flyers on the windshields of cars when that was still legal.”
Roy Mims moved his family to Hartselle in 1971after purchasing the Dari-Delite from the late M.A. Bush. Previously, he was employed as a teacher and football and basketball coach at Jemison High School in Chilton County. He later acquired two farms, one west of Hartselle and one in Lawrence County and raised Brangus cattle. Roy’s son Cameron assumed management of the farm and Hartselle Dari-Delite after his death.
“The Mims family loves Hartselle and is here to stay,” Mims said. “I don’t plan to change a things as far as the operation of Dari-Delite is concerned. My efforts will be concentrated on running the business in the same efficient and customer-friendly manner in which my dad did for so many years.”
Mims pointed out that he does plan to do some refurbishing and redecorating in the near future.