One chicken joint goes; another takes its place. That's the scene at Stanley Marketplace, where Chook Charcoal Chicken is building out its third Australian-style rotisserie chicken eatery in the former home of Yellowbelly, a local chain that specializes in fried chicken tenders.
"It's a really cool location within Stanley," says Adam Schlegel, who runs Chook with partners Alex Seidel and Randy Layman. "I've been talking to these guys since we started Chook, because the community is just so strong there."
Schlegel, Seidel and Layman founded Chook in 2018 at 1300 South Pearl Street and expanded with a second location at 4340 East Eighth Avenue at the end of 2019. The restaurant's emphasis on whole, half and quarter chickens lends itself well to takeout service, since family-style meals can be easily packed up and eaten at home. "In Australia, most of these places have just a couple of tables, so they're built for grab-and-go service," Schlegel notes. "Luckily, it was always part of who we are."
The team is targeting an end-of-year opening on the south side of Stanley Marketplace, next door to Annette. Schlegel points out that the space comes with more patio than indoor seating, which will be good for the transition from winter to spring. The menu will be consistent with Chook's other locations, with roast chicken, chicken sandwiches and salads and a number of side options, several of which include charcoal-roasted seasonal vegetables.
The company has been an advocate of humanely raised, sustainable chicken since the first Chook opened, and Schlegel says he's committed to continuing that mission. He's been working within the Colorado agriculture industry for the past several years to help small farms get chicken to the market more affordably, but so far Chook has been unable to find Colorado-raised chicken that meets the company's standards for quality while producing meat on a large enough scale to meet its needs. "The food infrastructure isn't where it needs to be," the restaurateur says. "We still don't have poultry processing in this state to the extent that we need."
The result is that large, industrial chicken producers get price breaks on processing, while small farmers are forced to pay higher prices for the same service. Despite these issues, Schlegel continues, operating three restaurants will allow Chook to lower its price for family packs, so he hopes to offer a two-person package with sides and sauces for just under $20. Chook continues to purchase its chicken from Miller Poultry, a network of more than 130 small farms in Indiana.
Adam Schlegel co-founded breakfast chain Snooze with his brother, John, before opening Chook with Layman, a front-of-house and beverage specialist, and Seidel, founder of Fruition and Mercantile Dining & Provision.
Stanley Marketplace is located at 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora. Yellowbelly still operates three Colorado locations, in Boulder, Arvada and Vail.