This fall, Wishbone will replace hoagies with fried chicken in University City.
The fried chicken restaurant will open at 4034 Walnut Street in the fall, replacing Lee’s Hoagie House, which closed June 12. There will be seating inside and outside the store, as well as takeout and delivery options available.
Executive Director of Real Estate at Penn, Ed Datz, noted that the intersection near the restaurant has thrived recently.
“If you look at it, University City has very successful food and beverage and, quite honestly, other small retail operations scattered throughout the community,” Datz said. “It’s great that that tradition will go ahead and continue.”
The new restaurant is based on the premise of specializing in one signature dish — fried chicken. The all-day lunch and dinner menu will leave room for future additions and chicken will be priced by weight.
Owners and chefs Alan Segel and Dave Clouser are planning to offer a signature flavor of chicken and one special flavor that changes every week or so, as well as a variety of sauces. The chicken will be cut into white and dark meat, as well as leg, thigh and breast made into tenders.
“Fried chicken is something you don’t make at home,” Segel said. “Everybody loves it, it’s very cravable, people dig it, they’d love to make it at home, but it is a mess.”
Although they originally wanted to open by the start of the fall semester, the owners are now aiming for an October opening to allow time for extensive construction and stricter building inspections following the building collapse June 5 at 22nd and Market streets. The walls, ceilings and storefront are among the renovations planned.
Despite all the changes coming to the location, students will recognize one familiar face. Donald Klipstein, who was the delivery man at Lee’s Hoagie House for 27 years, will join the Wishbone staff.
Segel and Clouser also aren’t new to the area — both attended Drexel, and both have also taught culinary arts there. Having known the University City area well, they decided that this location would suit their restaurant.
“We love the energy of the students,” Clouser said.
Both restauranteurs have experience as chefs and owners of fine dining institutions, and they hope to blend that sophisticated background with something a little more accessible.
“Our background is both fine dining in white tablecloth restaurants,” Segel said. “We want to kind of take the tablecloths off and focus more on the food.”
At the same time, they also want to emphasize that their restaurant won’t be your typical fried chicken joint.
“We don’t want it to be fancy and pretentious, but at the same time, we want people to know it’s not KFC,” Clouser said. “We’re approaching the food that we’re going to make here the same way that we would at our fine dining, white tablecloth restaurants. Chefs are maniacs, so we’re taking that same passion, attention to detail, focus and creativity, and we’re going to focus it on what we’re doing here.”
Eventually, the restaurant hopes to build a name for itself and become an integral part of the community for the years to come.
“We’re going to fit in because it’s a very familiar comfort food concept, but we’re going to stand out because the quality is going to be higher than I think most people would expect for fried chicken,” Segel said. “This is not fast food. It’ll be good food served fast. We’re setting the bar really, really high for ourselves. I think there’s going to be a really high level of curiosity when everybody sees it.”
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