Fried chicken runs in the family for the folks at Frankie’s.
For the proprietors of the new chicken establishment in the Comox Valley, the dish was a family tradition. Matthew and Lindsay Sieber would go to his family’s for the holidays where his father would prepare the entrée.
“We actually have fried chicken for Christmas dinner,” Lindsay says.
The couple decided to start with the family recipe and tweak it a little, eventually coming up with one that met with the approval of the youngest of their three children, three-year-old Frankie. He was named after his grandfather, so the name stuck when it came time to open the restaurant.
Matthew worked in computers and Lindsay worked in local radio, but they wanted to do something different. They thought about some ideas related to food, but they recognized there was a gap for fried chicken locally.
“We’ve always really been into food,” Lindsay says.
The fact they had a family recipe to start with only made the decision easier, so they started working on a business plan and looking for a location about a year ago.
The Siebers opened their doors at the former fish and chips stand at 3025 Comox Rd. on July 17, and they wanted to give their business a different flavour. Rather than the typical fried chicken restaurant, they focus on “fingers,” or boneless strips of B.C. breast meat dipped in buttermilk and coated with their secret, Frankie-inspired – and Frankie-approved – recipe. It’s served fresh rather than sitting under a heat lamp, as their sign makes clear.
“Everything we do is boneless,” says Lindsay. “We made this chicken and we hoped people would like it.”
Part of their philosophy is to offer a familiar comfort food but also something slightly different. It also makes what they serve unique in the event another fried chicken operation ever opens in the Valley.
Another thing that jumps out is the range of dipping sauces for the chicken. These go beyond the usual flavours to include three different types of barbecue sauce, two ranch, a nacho cheese, pineapple curry, ginger curry, chipotle and butter chicken, among others. They even offer a seasonal specialty flavour. At one point, during a visit, a customer walks up to the menu board, and upon seeing the lengthy list of sauces, exclaims, “Oh, sweet lord.”
Besides the chicken, Frankie’s serves hand-cut fries and deep-fried cheese curds, among the menu items. They also make their own doughnut bites from a mix somewhere between bannock and New Orleans-style beignets. Customers can order them separately, with their own dipping sauces, but Frankie’s also throws in a couple with a meal order.
With a small kitchen, the Siebers want to keep the menu simple.
“There’s a lot of crossover of ingredients,” says Matthew.
Already, the response has been strong. One customer gives them the thumbs-up on the way back to his car parked in a busy parking lot.
Keeping track of data is natural for Matthew from his previous work, so he’s taken note of how busy they’ve been.
“The longest we’ve gone without taking an order is 18 minutes,” he says.
The couple had expected to run the business with their oldest son and a part-time cook, but already, they have nine people working at least part-time. They had heard from others in business about the difficulty is finding good staff, but the Siebers feel they have been lucky with their crew.
“That actually is the biggest thing, they care,” says Matthew.
The Siebers hope that once people taste Frankie’s take on chicken, they’ll keep coming back, all throughout the year.
“Fried chicken’s good in the winter too,” adds Lindsay.