Summer Kitchen fried chicken

An email landed in Berkeleyside’s inbox the other day, subject line: “Outrage on College Avenue!” Reader Heidi, who lives in the Elmwood neighborhood, wrote:

Summer Kitchen Bake Shop has taken its fried chicken off the menu!

Everybody loved their fried chicken! It has been the gateway meat for many a small and so-well-raised Berkeley child. It has linked generations of foodies.

And why, I asked, has such a reckless decision been made? “Our menu is constantly evolving.” This is the understatement of this young year! Are they stonewalling us? Have they lost their source for the assertive black pepper in their breading? Can they no longer find sustainable oil for their deep fryer? Do they actually hate my daughters?

Please get to the bottom of this for us! We are helpless and in your hands.



Summer Kitchen on College/Photo: Lance Knobel

Naturally, we wanted to help Heidi, who seemed quite upset, if a little tongue in cheek, and get to the bottom of the disappearing fried chicken question. So we wrote to Charlene Reis, co-owner with her husband Paul Arenstam of the Summer Kitchen Bake Shop at 2944 College Avenue. Here is what she had to say:

We loved that note and we are so glad our customers love our fried chicken. We love our fried chicken too!

In an effort to make the best possible food we are putting our fried chicken on the menu on Fridays (Fried Chicken Fridays). We will also have a limited amount on Saturday and Sunday. We always take special orders for fried chicken too. We will have our chicken tenders everyday of the week and they always sell out too.

But here is what is going on with our fried chicken….

Our business model is to have the best, freshest and most sustainable products possible. This includes our fried chicken. Now that you can get fried chicken at KFC, Popeyes and Safeway for cheap, the perception is that fried chicken is an inexpensive food. Well it really isn’t…. nor should it be. So we feel that because our fried chicken uses such premium ingredients (free range chicken, organic flour, etc) and therefore costs more, we really need to make sure it is done right. Having it only on certain days allows us to do this.

So I hope everyone will join us for Fried Chicken Fridays and we will have homemade biscuits too!

Thank you.

Charlene Reis

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...