Buttermilk’s Chicken opened its doors on Tuesday, March 17, during a public health pandemic. Taking 10 days to convert the storefront from Rizzo’s Pizza to a touch of Southern …
Buttermilk’s Chicken opened its doors on Tuesday, March 17, during a public health pandemic. Taking 10 days to convert the storefront from Rizzo’s Pizza to a touch of Southern hospitality, owner Charlie Mastropaolo said that there is a surplus of Italian options in the Islip area.
“There is a lot of pizza in Islip, and we had this idea to bring some of my old brands back into the Islip area. With all these other pizzas and such a heavy proliferation of Italian food, we thought this might be good timing,” said Mastropaolo, who opened Rizzo’s Pizza just under two years ago.
Mastropaolo and his wife, Jenn, are currently the only employees at Buttermilk’s Chicken. The new chicken joint has been open just over a week, bound to curbside pickup, and has noted that they have run out of chicken almost nightly.
“I see the consumer has a problem getting what they want at the grocery shelves, and we have experienced it as a restaurant operator. You order 10 crates of chicken, and you are lucky if two show up. It has been affecting the day-to-day operation, but by and large we have been fortunate to get as much as we could get,” Mastropaolo said, adding that they are getting plenty of business.
Mastropaolo pointed out that the chicken sandwich on the menu has been a big hit and that select customers have returned two or three times to order the same thing.
“That has been getting a lot of the attention,” he said, continuing on to say that the sandwich was a staple at a previous business front he owned out east called The Country Rotisserie, which was sold to an employee 10 years ago.
He went on to share that chicken has been an early staple to his businesses as well as a personal favorite. “I have always had a very soft spot for chicken,” Mastropaolo said. “I had a chicken restaurant with my brother in Queens in 1978 and always had an affinity. I was always captivated by the simplicity of chicken.”
In regard to opening during the outbreak of coronavirus, the pickup aspect has been working well and customers have not been hard to come by.
“We did open in a chaotic moment, but against the advice from a lot of my colleagues saying we should wait. I said, why would we wait? We have a service we could provide. We are a value-priced operation at the same time,” Mastropaolo said, adding that incorporating delivery is the next venture during this point in time, considering the outbreak and existing restrictions. “We are not ready for delivery just yet because we are still hesitant on where we can get some drivers from. We didn’t have the intention of delivery when we first opened, and then this whole COVID-19 thing hit like crazy. And there was a strong demand for delivery. But there are a lot of challenges with delivery, and we want to do it right.”
Mastropaolo noted that they are not interested in involving third-party delivery companies.
“I don’t feel that they are really into the game properly, as a restaurant owner would. We are holding that off, but the response has been terrific in terms of call ahead and pickup,” he continued.