With the San Diego County Fair canceled this year, the iconic Chicken Charlie’s food stand has shifted to Grossmont Center to satisfy deep-fried-food fans. Photo by Chris Stone

Krispy Kreme Ice Cream Chicken sandwiches. Bacon-wrapped corn dogs. Deep-fried Oreos. And strawberry funnel cakes. They’re back!

On what would have been the first day of the San Diego County Fair, Charles Boghosian (aka Chicken Charlie) is still frying up his remarkable food, only now it’s 26 miles southeast of the fairgrounds.

At 11 a.m. Friday, Boghosian opened one of his food wagons near the marquee sign of Grossmont Center in La Mesa, near Walmart just off Interstate 8. Drivers can enter from Jackson Drive.

Although it’s not the complete menu that he served at the fair, it includes chicken and waffles, shrimp, frog legs, onion rings, french fries, ribs, and fried cookie dough.

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Boghosian’s newest creation — deep fried salt water taffy, in flavors including banana, blueberry, strawberry and mint — will be available for a taste.

Admitting that he was brokenhearted with the county fair was canceled due to the coronavirus, Boghosian said Friday: “This here is so cool right now. How fun is that?”

Through a mutual friend, Boghosian made arrangements to sell at Grossmont Center daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The closing time is required because of the ongoing La Mesa curfew.

No cash or credit cards are accepted. Instead customers need to go to ChickenCharlies.com and order for the Grossmont location. (Boghosian also owns a restaurant, Charlie’s Table, in Rancho Bernardo.)

After ordering and paying for food items online, customers will be sent an email, telling them to pick up the food. Food can be ordered while at the center or prior to arriving.

Donielle Plant of Santee was getting her car fixed when she noticed the Chicken Charlie’s sign from Interstate 8.

“I got excited and said, ‘Let’s go,’” she said. “I think it is great. They canceled the fair, so it’s not like you can do anything.”

Plant said she took her dad to the fair every year for Father’s Day, “so it’s kind of a bummer. So I brought him today. … With everything going on, it’s a perfect time.”

Matthew Neisler of San Diego also stopped by Chicken Charlie’s. He had never tried he food at the fair before and decided to give it a try, ordering a chicken sandwich, chicken and the deep-fried PB&J.

“So it’s really nice of them to bring in out here for everyone to try it out,” Neisler said.

Boghosian — who has sold at the fair for three decades — said every week or every other week, he’ll change up the menu a little.

“We’ll do fun thing,” he said. “We’ll add fun new creations to the menu.”

How long will he sell at Grossmont Center?

“I don’t have an end date,” he said. He’ll reassess after a month and may continue for another month or beyond.

Meanwhile at the fairgrounds in Del Mar, Roxy’s Restaurant, Copper Kettle Corn popcorn, California Corn Dog Company and Snax Shack Funnel Cake and Ice Cream are selling food from noon to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in June. Customers may buy the food via the Solana Gate entrance.

Additional vendors may be added as health department permitting allows.

The San Diego County Fair also is bringing some of its events online. See sdfair.com for details.

Virtual events include a photography exhibit, a virtual show at 1 p.m. Saturday featuring David Hernandez, Debbie Gibson and #1 Billboard artist Debby Holiday.

A virtual Junior Livestock Show and Sale, featuring 4H and FFA kids and their prized goats, steers, lambs and hogs also is planned. This eBay-style auction will begin at 9 a.m. June 26 and 27.

Starting June 11, a Student Showcase featuring artwork from schools will be shown.

Due to economic hardships, the Del Mar Fairgrounds is asking for donations at
saveyourfairgrounds.com.

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