Popular Underground Dining Club Opens First Restaurant in Avondale
AVONDALE — What happens at an underground dinner doesn't always stay underground.
Chefs Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp of Sunday Dinner Club have been putting on a popular fried chicken dinner for five years.
At one such event, Kulp's honey butter, intended as a topping for a side of corn cakes, started to mix and mingle and ooze all over and into the fried chicken. A flavor explosion ensued.
"I ran out to the dining room and started yelling, 'Put the butter on the chicken!" and everyone did and started freaking out," Cikowski said.
That happy accident launched their second business, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, an Avondale restaurant opening in the spring. It replaces La Finca, a family-owned Mexican restaurant that had been in business for 21 years.
The counter-service chicken spot at Elston Avenue and Roscoe Street will have a small but "very market-driven, very vegetable-based" menu, said Cikowski. "Probably a mac 'n' cheese, vegetables, salad, a couple desserts. We're working on biscuits or rolls." A meal should run between $10 and $15, she said.
Fried chicken is getting a leg up around town. Other eateries in the works that will feature fowl in some form include Endgrain from former Girl and the Goat cook Enoch Simpson, opening in January; and Leghorn from Nellcote chef Jared Van Camp and partners, slated for a first-quarter debut.
Endgrain is at Addison and Wolcott; the location for the 300-square-foot Leghorn is still under wraps.
Cikowski and Kulp closed on the La Finca space in November and are in the process of reworking some of the interior.
"The bones are solid," said Cikowski, noting the building's sizeable patio and tin panels found above the dropped ceiling and behind the stucco walls that they hope to restore.
She and Kulp continue to run Sunday Dinner, amounting to about 10 dinners a month. She hinted that Honey Butter might not be their last dining concept.
"Sunday Dinner is the creative hub of our business. We're hoping to have little terminals branching out from it," she said.
For now, Honey Butter's new home seems to be a good fit. If you poke your head out the door and look east down Roscoe, you can see the ever-present line of customers outside of Hot Doug's, the gourmet sausage shop.
"Maybe one day our lines will meet," Cikwoski said.