Opening Dispatch

Big Chickie Opens This Week in Hillman City

A former service station now dispenses charcoal-roasted pollo a la brasa.

By Nidhi Chaudhry September 8, 2014

Big Chickie stands at the corner of Rainier and Findley in Hillman City in what used to be a service station for more than 40 years.

Matt Stubbs and his wife Sarah’s Peruvian-style roast chicken place, Big Chickie is just about ready to open, and we’ve never been more excited about food that comes from a service station (ok, former service station). If the test-runs over the last few days are anything to go by, there will soon be hordes of hungry people heading to the corner of Rainier and Findley in Hillman City.  Even though the small kitchen is outfitted with two rotisseries which can handle 40 birds each at a time, there’s a very real risk the birds will sell out. Stubbs even installed a “Sold Out” neon sign out front. “It’s the nature of what we’re doing. It’s not something frozen, the birds are marinated a day in advance. I think at some point we will sell out.” he says. “But we’ll try not to.” 

Big Chickie is opening sometime this week—Facebook should yield more specifics. Meanwhile, here's a primer on what you might find here.

Eat: Pollo a la brasa, Peru’s signature charcoal-roasted chicken. It’s all about the bird here—crisped-on-the outside, juicy-on-the-inside and crusted with herbs.  And it’s a labor of love, first marinated overnight with citrus, garlic, herbs, and spices and then turned ever so slowly, basting in its own rendered fat, for over an hour in a wood-charcoal rotisserie. Customers can order a whole, half, or quarter chicken, served with sauces simply named "yellow creamy" and "green spicy"—that’s mayo-mustard and jalapeno respectively. Stubbs says the two creations are "like magic when they’re mixed.” The rotating cast of sides includes classics like steak fries, coleslaw, and corn salad, plus rice and beans and healthy options like kale slaw with edamame. Expect stuffing to show up on the menu around Thanksgiving.

Drink: Draft beer and wine. What else would you need at a place with a cookout vibe?

Sit: Outside. Most seating is on the covered, light-strung patio, which can be closed up and heated when the chilly months get here. It’s walk-up service only—no phone orders, no delivery—with the counter housed in the original service station building. As a nod to that past, Big Chickie is tricked out with neon signs and a menu on the wall reminiscent of gas-station window signages. There’s ample parking and it’s great for takeout (the roast chicken travels surprisingly well).

Bonus Intel: The corner space where Big Chickie stands came with the condition that the original service station building be retained (to honor the memory of Rudy Hansen who owned and ran the service station for more than 40 years.) Thanks to some community crowdfunding and the folks at Hammer and Hand, the 1950s commercial structure was retrofitted and the surroundings revitalized.

Big Chickie is open Monday through Saturday, only for dinners from, 4 to 9. Or, as Stubbs says, “4 till the chickens run out.”



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