It’s a big weekend.
Yes, it’s Big Game Weekend – the second biggest foodie day of the year (after Thanksgiving). People will gather around TVs at home, in restaurants and bars to partake in fun and enjoyable meals.
For a local place, this will be the last time its doors will be open, at least for the foreseeable future.
My friend Scott, son of owner John Stuchkus, recently told me that his family would be closing the chicken coop at its current location on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard. Let’s hope it’s not for good.
Scott recently told me that business has been tough due to the pandemic, market changes, supply chain issues and sadly his father’s legal issues, but there’s still a loud and loyal fandom of Chicken Coop in northeast Pennsylvania that will miss the beloved wings.
Many remember when, in 1987, the first chicken coop opened in Wyoming. Other locations followed in Plains Township and Harveys Lake, as well as on Scott Street in Wilkes Barre, before finding his newest home on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard.
The elder Stuchkus got his start in the restaurant industry cooking at various locations before opening his first restaurant, which quickly became popular.
Wing parties and Sunday Fundays have been among the many highlights over the years, with patrons coming from all over the Wyoming Valley and beyond.
As a young boy, Scott remembers his father taking time for him, but also coming to work 7 days a week, making sure the restaurant’s patrons were happy and everything ran smoothly.
More recently, Scott ran the restaurant while working full time and raising a family. I admire his tenacity and work ethic. Trying to keep a dream alive is admirable, but it’s also realistic enough to know when it’s time to take a break.
Since they will be open today for the game, it’s a perfect opportunity to stop by and offer best wishes to Scott, his brother Brandon and the staff.
Remember it’s BYOB.
If you prefer to watch the game at home, you can call for takeout.
Scott said that in the past two weeks since his social media announcement about the potential closure of the business, the restaurant has been busier than it has been in many months.
It just goes to show that sometimes people don’t miss a good thing until it’s almost gone.
I’m sure many old regulars will be there today for the (probably) final hurrah.
Who knows. Maybe we’ll see another chicken coop open up in the Wyoming Valley down the road. The family certainly didn’t rule it out.
But one thing is certain: it’s a good time to take a break, relax and recalibrate.
I like to give credit where credit is due and knowing when to take a break is a big thing to admit.
Although we never know what the future holds, we can always remember the good times at Chicken Coop and hope that we will see another version of it later.
Mike McGinley is a Times Leader columnist who is often referred to as a man of the city. Email him your thoughts at [email protected]