The first time Tom Pease publicly described his plans for a fried chicken restaurant in Elma, he hoped to open in April 2018.
The year part came true, at least.
On Dec. 21, after the completion of an extensive and thorough regulatory process, Rt. 16 Chicken Shack and Brewyard is officially opening at 6272 Seneca St.
Owned and operated by Pease and his wife Donna, proprietors of Blue Lantern Lounge, it offers Southern-style fried chicken, and "all the fixins."
A new second-story deck behind the historic building also offers a breathtaking view of Cazenovia Creek. Constructed in 1870, Pease said, it was designed as a general store. The second-story dining room includes original pine floors and brick.
A mural on the wall has been fashioned from an old photograph. "That is Mr. Fischer," said Pease. "This was Fischer's General Store in 1899."
The counter-service restaurant is designed for customers to get their food and drinks as they move along the counter separating the kitchen from first-floor dining space. Then people can find a place to sit.
The chicken comes in spicy and regular, with an entry level meal of a two pieces, two small sides and a biscuit ($11). Family meals start include an eight-piece with three large sides and four biscuits ($30).
Beer, including a custom-crafted 42 North brew, is available in draft, cans, and growlers. Wine is available in cans. Muffins and coffee round out the menu.
The spicy chicken offers a tickle of heat, akin to a mild-medium on the Duff's heat scale. It's crunchy and noticeably juicy, and holds up in a to-go box reasonably well.
Of the sides, collard greens stand out for their smoky-spicy character, tangy and sassy. Black-eyed peas, cooked with bacon, were tender and earthy.
Green beans are cooked until almost crumbly, Southern style, then dressed with vinegar. The macaroni and cheese is Velveeta-ish, noodles and sauce mixed to order.
Dirty rice at Rt. 16 Chicken Shack is made with ground beef, with no liver aspect, but there's enough chile in the pilaf-like mixture to leave you aglow.
Pease said he's planning on running a happy hour upstairs, Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. There will be more music on Saturdays until 10 p.m. In the spring, he expects to launch brunch.
Showing a visitor the panorama from the rear deck, Pease said: "Tell me that isn't the best view in Elma."
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, Saturday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Closed Sunday. Phone: 805-7050.
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