Photo by Joe Boyle
John Lowell, owner and manager of "Toasted" Chicken in Palos Hills, is joined by general manager Amanda Laux in front of the restaurant that features a large sign.
By Joe Boyle
John Lowell, the owner of "Toasted" Chicken in Palos Hills, may have the best remedy for dealing with a pandemic.
"I just always wanted to own a restaurant," said Lowell, 36, who was previously employed at an automotive center. "It was always my dream. But I just wanted to have it under a theme. I wanted it to be fun."
That was the impetus behind opening "Toasted" Chicken at 9750 S. Roberts Road, according to Lowell who believes it is important not only to provide good food but to entertain customers as well.
The sign that is present in front of the restaurant features an animated caricature of a chicken. Messages on the sign indicate that the restaurant is open and other various sayings that include "good vibes." The sign is noticeable to motorists who are driving by along Roberts Road.
Amanda Laux, the general manager of "Toasted" Chicken, said the quote marks around toasted is a reference to the counterculture days of the mid to late '60s.
"It's a pun, really," she said. "It's a play on words that people will notice when they come in here. The idea behind all this is to have some fun."
Along with some good chicken.
"Our chicken is fresh and not frozen," Lowell points out. "It can be prepared a number of ways and people really like it."
Lowell's enthusiasm was initially put to the test when he planned to open this past spring only to have it delayed because of the first wave of the pandemic.
In retrospect, Lowell said it may have been for the best.
"We wanted to open on April 20, which is National Marijuana Day," said Lowell, a Palos Park resident. "But when that happened, we decided to remodel everything from top to bottom. It gave us more time to add a lot inside and the people get a kick out of it."
Some of the images customers will notice is a marijuana flag, a Cheech and Chong banner and a framed photo of a Janis Joplin concert listing from the late '60s. A mural can be seen on one wall that includes the Chicago skyline.
Lowell also has a party room upstairs that under normal circumstances would seat well over 50. However, that changed almost immediately after they held their grand opening on Oct. 24.
"We had to shut down indoor dining just after a week because of the COVID surge," Lowell said. "We were seating about 25 people in the party room until the surge. But we will just prepare for it later."
Lowell said despite the setback, business has been more than steady.
"We have been doing surprising well," he said. "Right now, we are at 50-50 with delivery and pickup."
Most deliveries for now are offered through Grubhub. The restaurant is open for delivery and pickup most days from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. More information can be obtained by calling (708) 907-5547.
Lowell said a variety of chicken sandwiches and dinners are offered, including a chicken bucket. The bucket dinners range from 12, 16 and 24 pieces. Lowell also said that customers rave about the broasted potatoes. Salads are also prepared and range from tuna, Caesar's and a Hippie Chicken selection. Sides also include butter corn right off the cob, baked beans and potato salad. A kids menu, or a Lil Budz Menu, is also offered.
Desserts range from Sheila's Carrot Cake, rice crispy treats and chocolate chip cookies.
While the emergence of COVID-19 is a downer, Lowell remains optimistic about the future. He still plans to have an official grand opening that he hopes can take place on April 20. In the meantime, he is pleased with the response from the customers who come in.
"The references to the counterculture way back then upset some people but now it is pretty mainstream," Lowell said. "So, we just do this for fun. We want people to come in and smile."