Edible Monterey Bay

Kickin Chicken to Open in Motiv

June 13, 2017 – Great news for fans of Kickin Chicken. The late night Santa Cruz fried chicken and waffles delivery service will open its first bricks and mortar restaurant in July, with a second location planned to open in 2018.

“Now that we are going to have our own space, we can really have some fun,” says partner Justin Williams, who wants it to be “a nicer version of Cracker Barrel” with lots of kitsch, a dash of humor and a $10-12 price point that appeals to college students and those in the service industry. 

Kickin Chicken will move out of the incubator kitchen at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge and open in the upstairs space at Motiv on Pacific Ave. in mid-July. It’s the same restaurant space that was recently vacated by Lionfish Supper Club’s Ulterior and once housed the legendary Pearl Alley Bistro.

“We’re not farm-to-table, we’re more fryer-to-couch,” jokes Williams, who with partner Danny Mendoza has built a popular business by offering just fried chicken and waffles. (See EMB spring 2015 issue)

The new restaurant will give the pair a chance to get creative, by adding dishes that fit into a culinary category he describes as “elevated junk snack food.” Fried dill pickles will be on the menu, along with homemade cheez-whiz on crackers, Southern-style shrimp toast, late night breakfast burritos and chicken sandwiches. 

“We still use much of the bounty of local farms, but we want to attract both the upper and lower end of the market,” says Williams. “If you just go high end, you negate at least 50 percent of the population of Santa Cruz. We’d rather see the masses, than the select few.”

Decor will be quirky with extravagant mix and match cutlery and a homey vibe. One of the things the partners are looking forward to is the chance to work with real, commercial-grade deep fryers, instead of the tabletop fryers they’ve been using at Food Lounge. 

“We are really thankful to Andrea, Cat and Sally at the Food Lounge for helping us get to this stage, and to Mike Pitt for giving us this great opportunity at Motiv,” he adds.

Kickin Chicken has also signed on to be one of the opening tenants at The Lumberyard—a planned retail and residential complex at the corner of Portola and 38th Ave in the Pleasure Point neighborhood. If all goes well, the complex is slated to open in mid-2018.

And for those who depend on Kickin Chicken’s late night delivery service, have no fear, deliveries will still be available in the Santa Cruz area from the new kitchen at Motiv.