For the past several weeks, the brass from Big Red F -- owner and chef Dave Query, culinary director Jamey Fader and Brett Smith, the current exec chef of Zolo Grill -- have been on a chicken crawl, traversing the country in search of America's best fried chicken and rotisserie chicken. It's all part of a scouting mission that will result in a new -- and still unnamed -- chicken house and brewery that Query will open next year in the former VWF hall in Lafayette.
See also: - Zolo Grill's Brett Smith raps on pig, chile and a second Zolo Grill - Chef and Tell: Jamey Fader of Lola and Big Red F -Jax Fish House named one of the best seafood restaurants in the country
"Last week, Brett was in Texas eating chicken, right now, Brett is in Nashville eating chicken, and next week, Brett will in Mississippi and Georgia...eating chicken," squawks Query, adding that he and Fader just returned from Charleston, South Carolina, where they, too, immersed themselves in fowl. "We're dividing and conquering chicken across the country."
And if you're curious as to why Query is interested in unleashing a chicken romp, it's really quite simple: "There are a ton of taquerias, burger places and pizza joints, but no one has really filled the chicken slot, so this is going to be all about chicken -- fried and rotisserie," he explains.
"I was born in Kentucky," says Query, "and I remember meeting Colonel Harland Sanders at his second Kentucky Fried Chicken. I rode my bike down there to meet him, and there he was, standing outside in his whole white Colonel Sanders outfit." Query shook his hand and got an inked autograph. "That's how I rolled as an eight-year-old kid," he quips, noting, too, that his mom made a "killer fried chicken."
But chicken dinners, complete with the requisite sides like collard greens, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese, are just the beginning of what Query, who purchased the 9,622-square-foot building, has planned. "We're building a brewery, too, for the purpose of producing beer for all of our locations," reveals Query, who also owns three (soon to be four) Jax Fish Houses, along with Lola, West End Tavern, Zolo Grill, Centro and Bitter Bar. "We plan to brew beer on the premises, and I'm looking for a brewmaster right now, so if you know of anyone, tell them to look me up."
Much of the square footage will be devoted to production, and the number of beers that they'll have on tap will range from three to ten, says Query. He divulges, too, that the kitchen will be commanded by Smith, who will leave Zolo in the more than capable hands of his sous chef. "This is a great opportunity for everyone," stresses Query, and "it's also a great opportunity of us to stay in Boulder County, but get out of Boulder itself."
Query, who's still ironing out all the details -- "I have a million ideas in my brain," he says -- hopes to open in July of next year, and the project, he adds, is one that he's very much looking forward to. "I'm super-psyched to be doing something in Lafayette, and, come on, have you ever heard of a fried chicken brewery? Right. Great beers and great fried chicken. Cool."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.