Cecil’s chicken a staple since the 60s

It rises above the landscape in southern Marshalltown, beckoning road-weary travelers off Highway 30 and welcoming regulars who enjoy a good home-cooked meal with its simplistic message of “food.”

It’s a giant fiberglass chicken atop Cecil’s Cafe in Marshalltown, which many drive by each day and wonder how it got there.

Cecil’s owner Gordie Johnson said the chicken has been there since 1966 when the building was built. At the time, if companies bought two chicken broasters from a Le Mars company the fiberglass chicken came with it.

It must have been built solid as it has stood the test of time.

“I would have thought will all the wind and storms we’ve had through the years that chicken wouldn’t still be there, but it’s still there,” Johnson said. “It’s amazing to me that it’s still up there. It’s mounted solid.”

Johnson took over the restaurant from his dad, Cecil Johnson, in 1980. Through the years people have decorated the chicken and his dad once had a microphone to talk through the chicken and greet customers.

It still is a draw for people on a regular basis.

“We have people at least once a week take pictures of it,” Johnson said.

He said he’s had monetary offers from the company in Le Mars for the chicken and joked he might put it on eBay when he retires.

“It will come down when I retire,” Johnson said. “I’m no spring chicken.”