Leghorn, The "Socially Conscious" Chicken Restaurant, Finally Has A Location
By Anthony Todd in Food on Oct 24, 2013 2:30PM
Remember the great chicken boom of 2012? It seemed like everyone seemed to be opening (or more accurately, announcing) chicken restaurants. Pecking Order
had already opened, but other chicken places were just glimmers in their creators' eyes. Honey Butter Fried Chicken famously made it, but another, Leghorn, seemed to disappear from view soon after it was revealed.
The reason? Property negotiations. "We had a location that we loved," explained Leghorn partner Chris Dexter, "But it kept getting pushed back. Then we had a second location where we'd spent about two months negotiating the lease, and someone else came in and offered a lot more money." Plus, the fried chicken boom itself started to limit possible locations. "The first space we were going to do was in Logan Square—and as much as we love Logan Square, we figured, there's enough fried chicken in Logan Square right now."
Luckily, they finally found the perfect space: 959 N. Western Ave. "It's a really cool building, right on the corner of Western and Augusta in the Ukrainian Village," said Dexter. "It's got really cool bones, there's already a walk-up counter. We're really into the Ukrainian Village—I actually live in that neighborhood."
Leghorn comes from Element Collective, the group behind Nellcote and Old Town Social. Chef Jared Van Camp runs the food side of things, and he's been testing recipes for months in preparation for opening. The focus is on chicken sandwiches, rather than straight-up fried chicken. "It's meant to be our version of a socially-conscious fast food joint, with some authenticity and integrity," explained Dexter.
Leghorn got a lot of attention when they opened because they promised to donate money to gay rights groups, openly criticized both religion and "corporate bullshit" and planned to pass out Leghorn-branded condoms at the counter. Oh, and they're going to have local food. "Everything will be made in-house. The chickens will be butchered in-house every day," said Dexter. "There will be two options for the chicken sandwiches - pickle brined or Nashville hot." The current version of the menu is online, and includes the sandwiches, fried pickles, biscuits, french fries and fried chicken tenders.
When do they plan to open? "We're shooting for January 2014," said Dexter. "The space is ready to go. We're just waiting on a couple of design features."