Fry the Coop opens in Portage Park at Milwaukee & Cullom avenues, the chicken joint’s sixth location
by BRIAN NADIG
Fry the Coop, the casual eatery that lets you choose the heat level of your chicken sandwich, recently opened its sixth location at 4300 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Portage Park.
Owner Joe Fontana was joined for the July 21 ribbon-cutting ceremony by family members and Alderman James Gardiner (45th), County Commissioner Bridget Degnen (D-12), state Senator Robert Martwick (D-10) and a staff member from the office of state Representative Lindsay LaPointe (D-19).
“We’ve had our eye on Portage Park and Jefferson Park for a long time,” Fontana said.
“Little Coop,” as the sign near the entrance states, is smaller than the other Fry the Coop locations and is the former home of Hot Dog Express. Located at the northwest corner of the Milwaukee-Cullom intersection, the restaurant includes counter seating but offers a larger outdoor dining area.
Fontana said that he seeks out second-generation” restaurant locations because it cuts down on the initial build-out expense, as equipment from the previous occupant may be reusable. He added that he is not a large, wealthy corporation that can build completely from scratch.
The idea for Fry The Coop, Fontana said, stems from when he had chicken at a restaurant in California and it brought back memories as a child eating carryout fried chicken with his family.
He said that he eventually started cooking chicken at home, feeding some to his neighbors, and decided to open a restaurant, with his background as a bartender giving him some insight on how the industry operated.
Fry the Coop features a variety of fried chicken sandwiches, served on a brioche bun and the Coop sauce, with intensity levels ranging form country (no heat) to insanity (R.I.P. the menu says). The Nashville sandwich includes coleslaw and pickles on the chicken.
The other Fry the Coop restaurants are located in West Town, Oak Lawn, Elmhurst, Prospect Heights and Tinley Park. More information is available at www.frythecoop.com
Temporary hours for the Portage Park location are noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
(photo by Rob Mandik)