A dining companion Wednesday at Chook Charcoal Chicken’s opening preview called this new South Pearl Street restaurant “fancy Boston Market.” The comparison is not far off. Recent James Beard Award-winner Alex Seidel on Friday opens his first fast-casual restaurant. It’s a rotisserie chicken shop with counter service and comforting side dishes — but there the similarities stop.
Seidel and his team hope to eventually scale Chook (pronounced like a mashup of chick and cook) with more locations around Denver while creating a market for major changes in Colorado’s poultry industry. In this sense, Chook is a lot like Chipotle, with its lofty pork sourcing practices (something Seidel has discussed seriously with Steve Ells).
Anyone who heads to the founding Chook starting for lunch on Friday, though, will simply find high-quality and ethically raised birds in the form of juicy quarter, half, and whole grilled chicken cuts. They will see charred winter vegetables, fresh salads, and pastas and potatoes to order on the side. They’ll have their pick of half and whole glasses of “good beer” and “lovely wine.” And then hopefully they’ll notice the little “happy pots” of pre-batched cocktails — Negroni, Old Fashioned, two martinis — that leave most other fast-casual players in the dust.
The most exciting thing that couples, families, friends, and solo diners will find here, however, are a number of quality meal options for around $10 or less. A chicken thigh with a side, mac and cheese and a small salad, an avocado chicken sandwich on grilled bread, a happy pot and cup of pudding are all possibilities Eater priced out.
Upon winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest back in May, Seidel said he was thinking about his restaurants Fruition and Mercantile and how many people can’t afford to eat at them. So Chook is his next step. “I don’t want to bullshit,” he said, stepping away from the rotisserie after a busy preview night. “I want to bring good food to people at an affordable price.”
Status: Chook Charcoal Chicken opens from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. starting Friday at 1300 South Pearl Street. Find menus and more information, including poultry sourcing and charity programs, on the website.