UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Chicken lovers might have something to celebrate just in time for Valentine's Day, because if all goes as planned, a casual corner eatery specializing in fried chicken sandwiches from renown chef Jared Van Camp plans to open in mid-February.
Located in a light-filled space with tin ceilings on the southeast corner of Western Avenue and Augusta Boulevard in Ukrainian Village, Leghorn Chicken has been posting mouth-watering photos of its "taste tests" of chicken sandwiches on social media.
"You're killing me!" wrote one Facebook user in response to a photo of a chicken biscuit sandwich, while another called the sandwich, "scrumpdillyicious!"
Another photo includes a promise of "Let's just say you will be eating this *very* soon ... "
More anticipation is palpable on Twitter, with Leghorn Chicken tweeting on Monday that, "We're hurrying, we promise! Rome wasn't built in a day and we don't want to one up Rome, so ... ya know."
Heidi Hageman, a spokeswoman for Leghorn Chicken, said on Monday that the restaurant was hoping to open in mid-February, at 959 N. Western Ave.
Billing itself as a "socially conscious chicken shop" for the way it sources chicken from local farmers and its plans to donate to organizations that support gay rights, Leghorn Chicken is owned by Element Collective (Chris Dexter, Chris Freeman, Jared Van Camp and John Warken).
Other Element Collective restaurants include Old Town Social, Nellcote and RM Champagne Salon.
Initially hoping to open in 2012 in Logan Square, Dexter told Chicagoist in October that a previous location fell through. Ukrainian Village was chosen in part because "there's enough fried chicken in Logan Square right now," Dexter said.
Leghorn will be BYOB and, beginning at lunch time, will serve local farm-raised chicken butchered daily. Once it runs out, the shop will close for the day.
In Ukrainian Village, Leghorn will join other Western Avenue hipster haunts including Cafe Ballou, the Lockdown, Empty Bottle and The Sportsman's Club, a bar that reopened last month at 958 N. Western Ave., directly across from Leghorn Chicken.
In a world of choices — where some menus are like novellas — Leghorn Chicken's simple one-page menu offers three options, from the way the chicken is prepared (pickle-brined or Nashville Hot?), to one of two cuts (thigh or breast?) and lastly, the type of sandwich (buttermilk biscuit or bun?)
Van Camp told the Tribune that Leghorn would be the first shop to offer Nashville Hot, "a devilishly spicy preparation made famous by Nashville's Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, where the face-melting chili paste that gives the chicken its signature flavor is a closely guarded secret."
Extra sandwich toppings include cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, fried green tomato, house-made mayo or ranch, mustard, onion, as well as Old Town Social's smoked bacon. To wash everything down, there's root beer and cream soda on tap, served in frosty mugs and "fresh lemon shake-ups"
View the full menu here.
The restaurant draws its name from a heritage breed of chicken that first came to the United States in the mid-19th century and became "the overworked stalwart of the vast commercial egg industry" due to their "prolific capacity to lay eggs."
In recent years, the Leghorn breed has been raised more humanely on small farms across the country.