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Chicken Joe’s: A New Face on the Restaurant Scene

February 16, 2011

by Nathaniel Meyers

An area known as a hub for take-out restaurants is about to have a new addition. Chicken Joe’s, a downstate chain, has scheduled its grand opening in the Capital Region for noon Thursday.  After the 486 Yates St. shop opens tomorrow, the owners already have plans for another storefront to open in May on nearby Quail Street.

Four other Chicken Joe’s restaurants are spread out in Connecticut and in New Rochelle in Westchester County.

Partners John Sorbella and Joe Marini recognized an opportunity in the Albany area after Sorbella’s son attended college here, and they noticed take out choices were limited primarily to pizza and Chinese. The plethora of  colleges within the city’s borders made Albany appealing for the restauranteurs.

College of Saint Rose students got an early taste of what Chicken Joe’s has to offer during a special promotion at a

Chicken Joe’s, located on 486 Yates Street (Nathaniel Meyers)

school basketball game last Saturday. Marini, the man for whom Chicken Joe’s is named, was impressed with the turn out and positive feedback he received from students.

“It’s a good location. It’s going to do fantastic,” Marini said. The Yates Street Chicken Joe’s is housed in what was once a residential building that has been vacant since 1981. The second location is scheduled to open in the old Pepper Jack’s building on Quail at Western Avenue.  The owners believe that while it may seem redundant, Chicken Joe’s has made a habit of placing restaurants near each other in cities, and Marini said that the double placement of the chain will only improve the results.

According to Sorbella, Chicken Joe’s has past experience with college clientele, having served Iona in New Rochelle.

“College students are looking for good food, fair price,” said Sorbella, who said that students studying at the University at Albany and Albany College of Pharmacy may use their meal swipe cards as a means to pay for food at Chicken Joe’s. “We also hope to get on the Saint Rose meal plan as well.” The restaurant hours also indicate the student-friendly nature of the store, with openings at noon every day and staying open to as late as 4 a.m. Sorbella also hopes to include the student community in the business itself. “We hope to utilize college kids for part-time work,” he said, noting that he estimates his staff will be 10 to 15 strong.

Sorbella’s son Mike has been involved with Chicken Joe’s for the last few years in the Westchester branch of the chain. He echoed his father sentiments about the store’s appeal to college students. “It gives new eating opportunities and variety,” he said, pointing out that the majority of food establishments in the area that stay open late are pizzerias.

Just as the name suggests, Chicken Joe’s specializes in poultry. Sorbella said the most popular meal on the menu is the “High School Special,” which consists of a half pound of chicken nuggets, with a choice of side and soda.  “We use fresh, 100% white meat, with special butter and special seasoning,” said Sorbella. For those who may not prefer chicken, the menu also includes wraps, hot and cold sandwiches, and multiple side orders. The prices range from $6 wraps to 20 wings for $10.   -30-


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