There must be something going around -- restauranteur Ben Poremba is the latest to announce an expansion to his food empire. Following Olio, Elaia, and Salume Beddu and La Patisserie Choquette for his company Bengelina Hospitality Group will be a restaurant focusing on fried chicken, which Poremba, for the moment, refers to as "the chicken shack."
Poremba has been part of the revitalization of the Botanical Heights neighborhood, but we had to ask why he's opening yet another restaurant when he already has so much on his -- ahem -- plate.
It seems it's been a part of Poremba's plan all along. He wanted to bring density to a neighborhood that's been failing for a long time, and he decided density of business is the only way. His chicken restaurant will be a stone's throw from the others.
"From the get go I knew I was going to open something that's quite different from what we have going on at Elaia and Olio," he says. "The American comfort-food concept is just not done in St. Louis, not on a daily basis, and it happens its one of my favorites."
Poremba is planning simple food -- like really simple: He says there won't be anything but fried chicken as far as the main course goes. The menu is currently being developed by Poremba along with his chefs from Elaia and Olio.
It will also feature a fairly large bar that will focus on American whiskies and the accompanying simple cocktails, like old fashioneds. Poremba describes the dining room as three or four large communal dining tables but with several private tables for diners who prefer a more intimate meal.
As for the name, it's really just "the chicken shack" until he comes up with the real thing. "It might end up being the name, but that's really not the intention," Poremba says. He's eyeing an April opening and promises one thing: "It's really about the fried chicken."