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Popular Nashville Hot Chicken Chain Debuts First City Restaurant in West Town

Fry The Coop arrives from the suburbs inside a former Michelin-starred space

A restaurant’s colorful sign.
Fry The Coop‘s first Chicago location.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

A suburban-based Nashville hot chicken mini-chain begins putting down roots in the city proper this weekend. Fry the Coop will officially launch its long-awaited Chicago location on Saturday in West Town, but will give customers a sneak peek on Friday night. The space previously housed Tzuco chef Carlos Gaytán’s restaurant Mexique, where he became the first Mexican-born chef to earn a Michelin star.

Owner Joe Fontana likens the restaurant to Nashville institution Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. He fries the chain’s chicken and fries in beef fat, which he believes provides better flavor. Diners can choose their spice level from heatless “country,” to “mild,” “medium,” “hot,” “crazy,” (with a rub inspired by Thornton Prince, the legendary founder of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Tennessee) and “lil’ insanity.”

Meatless options are limited, but vegetarians can order off-menu meat-free sandwiches. Fry the Coop mostly offers sandwiches rather than stand-alone chicken pieces, though tenders are on the menu.

The storefront is louder than others on Chicago Avenue.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago
A subway sign with chalk inside a restaurant displaying different spice levels.
Fry The Coop offers six levels of spice.

Fontana plans to add mac and cheese to his selection of sides, which include potato salad, coleslaw, and cheese fries, and promises more new options at the West Town restaurant in the future. He also hopes to soon debut a full-service bar featuring local draft beers and late-night hours on the weekend.

The space looks a lot different than its predecessor, Michelin-starred Mexique, where customers dined on Mexican-French fusion cuisine. The new dining room seats 62 within the 2,750-square-foot space. It feels a little bit like a college kegger with a hodgepodge of vintage trinkets hanging from the walls.

Fry the Coop first opened in 2017 in suburban Oak Lawn before debuting a second spot in Elmhurst the next year. The brand also operates a stall in the Loop’s Wells Street Market, which allowed Fontana to dip a toe into the Chicago market before launching the full restaurant. In February, he told Eater that he wants to open 15 locations in the Chicago area over the next eight years.

Fry the Coop opens Saturday in West Town, but excited would-be patrons can swing by for free samples on Friday. Take a tour through the space below.

Fry the Coop, 1529 W. Chicago Avenue, Open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday.

A restaurants counter with eight seats and a wall hanging with trinkets.
The former Michelin-starred space is now a fast-casual spot.
An “L” shaped bar with red leather seats.
Fry The Coop added a bar to this West Town space.
A view of a restaurant from the bar with an exposed brick wall and framed art on the wall.
The space feels downright collegiate.
A computer tablet mounted on a counter in the back of a restaurant with a menu board overhead.
Order here at the back of the restaurant.
A restaurant’s space with Edison bulbs hanging from the ceiling.
Fry The Coop has late-night hours.

Fry the Coop West Town

1529 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60642 Visit Website

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