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Chicks Natural celebrates a milestone

Following a 30th anniversary banner to a quick and healthy lunch

A small counter shop in a corporate food court
A small counter shop in a corporate food court

There’s a little strip mall in Sorrento Valley that’s mostly filled by ten or twelve little counter restaurants; a food court serving all the corporate campuses in the area. It sits about a block south of the local outpost of Karl Strauss Brewing Company. San Diego’s oldest brewery turned 30 last month and threw a big party to celebrate, as it does every year.

In the strip mall, Chicks Natural likewise opened in 1989. It celebrated its 30th anniversary last month by hanging a banner.

Place

Chicks Natural

9430 Scranton Road, San Diego

I guess there’s not as much glory in rotisserie chicken as there is craft beer, but staying in business for 30 years is quite a feat for any type of restaurant. I had been heading for a different restaurant in the food court, but when I spotted the banner, I decided to celebrate by going inside and ordering its most popular entrée: a half chicken with two sides for $13.92. For $1.86 you can add bread to the order. I chose the baked in-house jalapeño corn muffin over flour tortillas or wheat roll.

Note that it’s Chicks Natural, not Chick’s Natural. There’s not a person named Chick, the name refers to the shop’s practice of serving natural chicken, i.e. farmed without hormones or preservatives. Chicks marinates small chickens for two days in a citrus and spice blend, then fires them in its rotisserie oven.

30 years a healthy fast food fit for Sorrento Valley

The results include crispy seasoned skin and flavorful meat, served almost immediately once you order it. That would make it fast food, but a healthy approach to fast food, especially by 1989 standards. To wit, there are no French fries among the litany of sides to go with your chicken. Instead the starches include rice, roasted sweet potato, potato salad, and mashed potatoes with gravy. You can choose corn on the cob, salad, coleslaw, fresh fruit, or steamed vegetables: carrots and broccoli.

There’s not a ton of wow factor, but there’s a decent meal served with a winning combination of speed, health consciousness, and affordability. Good enough for 30 years and counting. If I worked in the area, I might make a regular thing of this chicken too, but I might bring in my own hot sauce to liven up those steamed veggies.

Ironically, this 30-year-old restaurant that trademarks itself as “the original fire roasted chicken,” may not even be the original Chicks Natural. That seems to be Chicks Natural Encinitas, which claims to have opened in 1985. The two shops offer identical menus, but apparently operate independently of one another these days, with separate websites and social media channels. They each operate their own distinct catering services.

So, in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, the first GPS satellite went into orbit, and the first Simpsons episode aired. Meanwhile, in Sorrento Valley, a Chicks Natural opened for business.

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A small counter shop in a corporate food court
A small counter shop in a corporate food court

There’s a little strip mall in Sorrento Valley that’s mostly filled by ten or twelve little counter restaurants; a food court serving all the corporate campuses in the area. It sits about a block south of the local outpost of Karl Strauss Brewing Company. San Diego’s oldest brewery turned 30 last month and threw a big party to celebrate, as it does every year.

In the strip mall, Chicks Natural likewise opened in 1989. It celebrated its 30th anniversary last month by hanging a banner.

Place

Chicks Natural

9430 Scranton Road, San Diego

I guess there’s not as much glory in rotisserie chicken as there is craft beer, but staying in business for 30 years is quite a feat for any type of restaurant. I had been heading for a different restaurant in the food court, but when I spotted the banner, I decided to celebrate by going inside and ordering its most popular entrée: a half chicken with two sides for $13.92. For $1.86 you can add bread to the order. I chose the baked in-house jalapeño corn muffin over flour tortillas or wheat roll.

Note that it’s Chicks Natural, not Chick’s Natural. There’s not a person named Chick, the name refers to the shop’s practice of serving natural chicken, i.e. farmed without hormones or preservatives. Chicks marinates small chickens for two days in a citrus and spice blend, then fires them in its rotisserie oven.

30 years a healthy fast food fit for Sorrento Valley

The results include crispy seasoned skin and flavorful meat, served almost immediately once you order it. That would make it fast food, but a healthy approach to fast food, especially by 1989 standards. To wit, there are no French fries among the litany of sides to go with your chicken. Instead the starches include rice, roasted sweet potato, potato salad, and mashed potatoes with gravy. You can choose corn on the cob, salad, coleslaw, fresh fruit, or steamed vegetables: carrots and broccoli.

There’s not a ton of wow factor, but there’s a decent meal served with a winning combination of speed, health consciousness, and affordability. Good enough for 30 years and counting. If I worked in the area, I might make a regular thing of this chicken too, but I might bring in my own hot sauce to liven up those steamed veggies.

Ironically, this 30-year-old restaurant that trademarks itself as “the original fire roasted chicken,” may not even be the original Chicks Natural. That seems to be Chicks Natural Encinitas, which claims to have opened in 1985. The two shops offer identical menus, but apparently operate independently of one another these days, with separate websites and social media channels. They each operate their own distinct catering services.

So, in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, the first GPS satellite went into orbit, and the first Simpsons episode aired. Meanwhile, in Sorrento Valley, a Chicks Natural opened for business.

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Comments
1

I loved this place in that mall on University Avenue in the early 90s. Had no idea it was ever going to be more than a standalone. I can probably get them investors if they're serious about expanding.

Feb. 21, 2019

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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