Chad Rosenthal planned to open his first Chicago restaurant, Lucky Well, in March 2020, but the pandemic forced him to concentrate on his barbecue spots in Pennsylvania. Rosenthal still intends to open his barbecue inside the Roosevelt Collection, the shopping center and apartment complex in the South Loop, but it’s going to take time.
“It’s going to be more like a QSR (quick-serve restaurant),” Rosenthal says. “It might not happen until next year.”
The pandemic forced Rosenthal to reevaluate his priorities, and that means he’s going to scale down his Chicago project; there won’t be live music like his East Coast locations. At the height of the pandemic, expansion wasn’t the first thing on his mind, as he needed to tend this restaurants and workers in Pennsylvania.
That led him to start selling carryout- and delivery-friendly fried chicken sandwiches. Motel Fried Chicken offers and original and spicy — Rosenthal says it’s not Nashville hot. There’s also fried catfish sandwiches and and burgers: “It’s super simple and really amazing,” the chef says of his smash burgers.
The chicken. prepared at a West Side kitchen, sits in an overnight brine, dredged in buttermilk-seasoned flour and they finish it with some herbs. The chicken sits between a potato roll from Pennsylvania-based Martin’s. There’s salty pickles and Japanese Kewpie mayo.
Rosenthal says he wants to open more locations to serve more of Chicago. He loves the city, and though Lucky Well is on the back burner, at least the Midwest will get his chicken.
Motel Fried Chicken, available for order via DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats.