Bushong describes being ‘swamped’ after opening Sound Chicken, talks about plans

With the array of fast food spots serving chicken, Clay Bushong took note and created Sound Chicken, a retro grab-on-the-go restaurant that combines two of his interests: music and chicken. It has already attracted a whole lot of customers from the day it opened a week ago.

“We talked about how many great chicken places there were in the city and realized that there weren’t really any good ones out here,” Bushong said.  Then the Chipper Truck Cafe at the corner of Fifth and Lincoln avenues shut down. “At the perfect time, I found out that the location was available, and I talked with the landlord, and it was decided,” he said.

Julia Findikyan

The original plan was to open at the end of November, but after some necessary renovations, Sound Chicken opened Jan. 30.

The first day of business came with one particular challenge—keeping up with the demand. Bushong said they didn’t know what the response would be and ended up with backed up orders due to a broken fryer, which is now fixed.

“We were swamped, and sadly, we found out that although we tested it, our second fryer didn’t work,” he said. “So we went down to one fryer with 50% capacity,” he said. Although most would view this as a negative, Bushong knew it meant that people loved chicken as much as he did and were excited about his new restaurant.

That rocky first day behind it, Sound Chicken is enjoying good reviews. Bushong told the Examiner he was “so excited” about the positive community response thus far. (Bushong also runs Cantina Lobos and Double Rainbow and is director of programming, marketing and theater operations at the non-profit Pelham Picture House.)

“It was absolutely delicious,” said eighth grader Liam Ginsburg of the chicken sandwich. “All the sauces were amazing, and I loved the selection they had.”

Pelham resident Jeffay Chang also praised the food: “The sandwiches were great, and the chicken was plump and moist. The breading and spices were not overwhelming. Even though it was opening day and they had their challenges, they took my order and texted me when it was ready.”

Bushong said his personal favorite item from the menu is the Sound Spicy chicken sandwich. All the sauces, he explained, are made right in the restaurant. “My favorite sauce is the Jacks White Sauce. It’s a little thinner than a normal barbecue sauce. It tastes tangy and a little spicy.”

Although the menu is limited right now, Bushong said the important thing for readers to note is that it is a starter menu.

“We will have vegetarian options… and we are working on gluten-free chicken as well,” Bushong said. “We are going to have a lot of fun with different flavors. Bacon cheese fries are on the way.”

One aspect that sets Sound Chicken apart from other chicken restaurants is the retro feel. The Jones’ Cane Sugar Soda machine fits in perfectly. It has several interesting flavors like chocolate, berry-lemonade and lemon-lime soda.

“It’s made of pure sugar cane so it is produced and tastes much more natural instead of chemical like other soda.” Bushong said. “The flavors are nice and subtle and not overbearing.

Walking into Sound Chicken, there are a few stools by the windows for indoor seating. Although customers cannot currently order through Uber Eats or Grubhub, Sound Chicken does its own deliveries.

Julia Findikyan

“Those companies take up a very large percentage of the bill, so while we are starting out, we will be doing our own deliveries,” Bushong said, adding other delivery options would be established eventually.

In addition to an expanded menu and deliveries, Bushong said he plans to create outdoor seating and is starting discussions with the landlord to fix up the parking lot behind the restaurant.  While those plans might be far down the road, Bushong said that it is a dream to have outdoor space. “We would love to renovate that area to add little picnic tables. It’s also right by the bus stop, so people waiting could come grab some chicken.”

As Chang said, “We are so excited that there is a take-out place in town that is just focused on chicken.”

Sound Chicken is open six days a week (closed on Mondays). For more information and the menu, visit the Sound Chicken website.