When Alison Steindler unlocked the front door of The Chicken Coop on Feb. 24, she did so quietly. It was intended to be a soft opening, and there were systems and processes to test, and so Steindler expected at most a trickle of customers for her rotisserie chickens.
The good people of Huntington had other plans, though, especially as they had been driving by the place for close to two years. "We had a line out the door," said Steindler, her eyes welling up. She looked across a table at her two business partners, co-owners Michael Schlitz and John Venini; together, they figured they served 150 people in an hour and a half. "I think we … we all have so many people who love and support us …"
And had been waiting, clearly, for The Chicken Coop to open — or reopen, because Steindler had run an earlier, tinier version of The Chicken Coop on Gerard Street years prior. When that first spot closed in 2014, Steindler — a Sea Cliff native who now lives in Fort Salonga — vowed she would bring it back elsewhere, expanded and improved. Making good on that promise would take longer than originally planned, because Steindler still co-owned another Huntington restaurant (Fado, closed in 2018). On top of it, the former insurance office where she dreamed The Chicken Coop 2.0 might open needed extensive gutting, which Schlitz and Venini undertook with gusto.
The reinvented Chicken Coop is exponentially larger than the first, with 20 seats and a warm, enveloping farmhouse ambience that weaves together country-chic elements (such as corrugated steel and a vintage cast-iron stove) with scattered family heirlooms, such as a counter salvaged from Schlitz's grandfather's barber shop. Some of the wood used on the interior was reclaimed from the renovation, and a chandelier was made from a repurposed wagon wheel.
The blazing heart of the place is a 600-degree, imported rotisserie oven, which burnishes chickens to a coppery hue in 25 minutes. Those antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed birds are marinated in lemon, wine and spices before roasting; when pulled from the spit, they're plated in half- and full-sizes, along with two sides, such as broccoli with sliced almonds, jalapeno-cheddar mac-and-cheese and roasted garlic-Parmesan creamed spinach. Customers order full meals (which start at $12.50) at the counter, and each comes with biscuits and a choice of house sauces, such as garlic lemon butter.
Some of the chicken and its drippings are subsequently spun off into a regiment of salads and sandwiches ($8.50 to $12.50) such as "The Coop Cobb Club," which essentially recreates a Cobb salad on a house-baked challah brioche bun, or a "Mikey B" (named for Schlitz, who staffs the kitchen) of chicken, Cheddar and smoked-bacon bratwurst on a pretzel brioche roll from neighbors Duck Island Bread Company.
Scattered throughout The Chicken Coop are poultry-less noshes and drinks such as cheese Danishes from Ozone Park's Brick City Baking; a cooler of locally made kombucha and sodas, matzo chips produced in Brooklyn and honey from an upstate farm. In coming days, Steindler and co. will add beer and wine, as well as coffee (she's still deciding on a roaster), and possibly a seventh day of service — for now, The Chicken Coop is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday.
The Chicken Coop, 212 E. Main St., Huntington. 631-425-2667. No website yet.