Since my friends and I decided to eat lunch at the Chicken Lounge & Grill in the Dorneyville Shopping Center for my November review, we all opted for a chicken sandwich for lunch from the wide menu.
Little did we know the chicken dishes on the menu were not the reason for the restaurant's name!
Manager Augie Moore said it took him years to learn that the Chicken Lounge got its name from an octagonal design in the original carpet that looked like chicken wire. Wallpaper in the place also had some chickens on it, he said.
"Hey, it was the '70s," Moore said defensively.
Renovated 3.5 years ago, the lounge still has lots of chicken-themed art, including a framed version of American Gothic with a chicken and rooster dressed as farmers, and relief sculptures of hens on the exterior walls. Smoking is no longer permitted inside or out, but the place retained its charming octagonal-shaped sunken bar, with tables arranged around the perimeter.
"It's a lounge," Moore said. "We don't kick people out. There are no bar stools but chairs, which are more relaxing. That's what people like."
Wings are a popular appetizer, but don't expect them to be deep-fried. The Chicken Lounge grills its wings, burgers, steaks and more in the center of the room, where patrons can watch them being made.
There are no fried foods served here, Moore said.
That might make the food healthier or less fattening but one of my friends, who ordered the chicken parmesan sandwich ($7.69), prefers a deep-fried crunch. Still, she said, "It's good," as we compared notes about our dishes.
I ordered the Hawaiian chicken sandwich sans the roll. It was the same price, came with chips, a large dill pickle and was doused with a sweet and tangy pineapple mustard glaze and grilled slice of pineapple. YUM! My coffee was good and refilled at least twice.
Another friend ordered the chicken cheesesteak, also $7.69, which came loaded in a crusty roll. She liked it but said it was not out of the ordinary.
We didn't try the nachos, but according to the paper placemat, the Mexican specialty has helped make the Chicken Lounge "world famous."
"No one makes them like we do," said Moore, who helps cook as well as wait tables and clean up. "We order a 40-pound box of Monteray Jack cheese that we grate ourselves, and we make our own guacamole."
He said other restaurants serve "tiny baskets" compared to their platters. A small order ($10.29) serves 4-6 people. A large ($13.29) as many as 10 or more.
According to the history on one side of the placemats (the back side of which offers fun chicken facts, a word search and kid's menu), the Chicken Lounge is still owned by Norman and Stephen Falk, whose parents opened and ran a chain of department stores in the Lehigh Valley in the 1960s. The stores, which also offered groceries and a snack bar, were considered ahead-of-their-time super stores, much like Walmart's offers today.
One of those stores was located where the Chicken Lounge & Grill continues to operate.
Moore said business these days is unpredictable but the lounge has survived more than 40 years by providing tasty food at reasonable prices and at hours when many other establishments are closed.
The Chicken Lounge & Grill operates every day of the week from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m., with the exception of major holidays.