“Randolph went big, then Fulton, and the next big street is Grand. The neighborhood is on the upswing,” said Tucker.
Crazy Bird Chicken closed last June after a two-year run that earned kudos from fans enamored by its chicken and “Crazy Bird Crazy Good Fries,” made with truffle oil, gravy, cheese and duck bacon.
Last week, Tucker put up a “coming soon” sign for Crazy Bird at 1160 W. Grand Ave. in the former HoneyBaked Ham storefront, a few doors west of famed Italian deli, Bari.
“We will go from eight seats with bulletproof glass on the West Side to just under 40 seats and applying for beer and wine and upgrading the menu. I can’t wait to see my old customers again,” said Tucker, who will serve as the general manager and chef of the new spot, which will feature reclaimed wood tables, high ceilings and exposed brick walls.
Tucker’s chicken is crispy and lightly breaded.
“It has just enough breading to still be fried chicken, but it’s not greasy [like thickly breaded fried chicken],” he said.
Tucker said he plans to use free range chicken and locally sourced turkey and will offer rotisserie chicken as well.
All of Crazy Bird’s side orders — such as red beans and rice and hand-picked collard greens — are made from scratch, he said. For patrons looking for more than fried chicken, the menu will have chicken Parmesan, chicken Vesuvio and turkey and meatball sandwiches with red gravy.
“I’m not thinking about submarine [sandwiches] because we have three places, all neighbors, including Bari that do that. A lot of the neighborhood is Italian food and sushi,” Tucker said.
“I want people to be comfortable and able to relax and have a good, home-style cooked meal. A young couple starts off and has $25 or $30, and for two of them, they can have some beer and a complete dinner for that,” Tucker said.
Tucker said a fried chicken sandwich will cost around $5, and the most expensive thing on the menu will be a 4-piece chicken dinner with two sides for $12.95.
— Crazy Bird (@CrazyBirdChickn) April 21, 2017
For desserts, Tucker plans to visit farmers markets for fruits to use in cobblers, as well as corn, which will be used in several dishes while it is fresh and readily available from Illinois cornfields.
After he gets the chicken operation up and running, Tucker plans to use a hickory wood smoker for smoked brisket and rib tips, and he’s also considering adding a brunch service with waffles and chicken and egg dishes on weekends.
“Further down the road, I’m thinking about our own turkey pastrami,” he added.
Tucker, who describes himself as a South Side kid born in Provident Hospital, worked at Mike Ditka’s first restaurant in the ’80s and has served as private chef to several celebrities in addition to running a catering business, according to his website.
Tucker said the restaurant traces its name to three years ago when he was trying to think of something that people would remember and he kept returning to the phrase “crazy bird.”
His idea was reinforced by a media report highlighting the fried chicken boom.
“I saw a story in the newspaper on eight or 10 fancy fried chicken places. It was titled ‘Bird Crazy’ and once I saw that I knew [the name]. Crazy is a popular word now,” Tucker said.
Crazy Bird’s tagline — developed by Tucker’s niece, who also designed the eatery’s logo featuring a chicken with exaggerated eyeballs — takes the crazy theme further: “If it ain’t crazy good, it ain’t crazy bird.”
Larry Tucker, owner of Crazy Bird Chicken. [Crazy Bird Chicken]