Philip “Cowboy Phil” Sanders, founder of Dallas-based Cowboy Chicken, passed away on Saturday, September 12 at the age of 85 following a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease. Sanders and his wife of 58 years, Jeanette, founded the popular fast casual wood-fired rotisserie chicken chain in 1981 with a motto of “The customer is always right.”

“Our dear friend and founder Phil Sanders was truly a special person, always kind and happy to see you,” says Sean Kennedy, president and CEO of Cowboy Chicken. “There will never be a better brand ambassador than Cowboy Phil. He was a friend and mentor to many of us in the Cowboy Chicken family, and we will miss him every day.”

Sanders was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1934 and was the eldest son of Yetta and Morris Sanders. The U.S. Army veteran moved to Dallas in the early 1960s and was the head of his own textile company for many years before opening the first Cowboy Chicken restaurant in 1981. The fast-growing chain now includes 17 locations in four states. Sanders is remembered for his gentle spirit, positive outlook and ability to see the good in everyone.

Cowboy Chicken invites friends and guests to submit memories and photos of Sanders on a memorial page on its website and to join the company in donating in his honor to the Michael J. Fox Foundation to further Parkinson’s disease research.

“Our goal is to continue to work hard to make Phil proud. In keeping with the family’s request, we will join others in making a donation to the Michael J. Fox Foundation,” adds Kennedy.

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