As customers enter Tony’s Fast Chicken, they are either greeted with an empty restaurant or with a line out the front door spilling into the parking lot, all depending on the time of day.
The small establishment does not have any indoor seating, except for three fold-out movie seat chairs, which I assume are part of the somewhat confusing aesthetic that is apparent in other aspects of the restaurant. The only seating that is available consists of a couple metal tables and chairs scattered outside the eatery, remnants of the last business that was there.
Tony’s Fast Chicken is in the corner of Town and Country near Sushi House, with large glass windows surrounding it. The walls are bare white wooden planks with assorted sticker decor. Parked off to the side is a small cart with lemonade and iced tea.
Further to the right of the cart is an enlarged version of the menu. To order their food, customers need to walk up to two wooden tables, populated with assorted chips, desserts, milk crates and various drinks. A smaller copy of the menu is on a piece of paper on the wooden table.
The prices shown on the menu are extremely high. Excluding the Paly special, the cheapest item is two-piece fried chicken ($7.00), not including fries or a drink. Sides can be added for $2, while drinks range from $2-5. Tony’s Fast Chicken also offers wings, fried chicken sandwiches, baked chicken, nachos and a baked fish sandwich. The last three do not really fit with the theme of a fried chicken joint.
The Paly special is $7, and the options include either a fried chicken sandwich with a drink or fried chicken nachos. However, the high prices on the standard menu does not translate into the quality of food. Out of the two Paly specials, the chicken sandwich is the option with the most monetary value.
Anyone who visits Town and Country knows there are two distinct sides of the shopping center: one with the Paly lunch rush and one on off-hours. During the lunch rush, Tony’s prepares a selection of premade sandwiches, packaged in small paper bags on a large baking tray off to the side of the counter. After receiving the sandwich, I decided to eat it back at Paly, and embarked on the three minute journey back onto campus. Unfortunately in that short time, the sandwich had become soggy and cold. Seeing that the bottom bun had ample time to soak up all liquids from the chicken in the sandwich, one could imagine how long they had been sitting out. The bottom bun was akin to a glob of partially dried Elmer’s glue, while the chicken was unevenly thick. Although the pickles and the coleslaw blended nicely with the rest of the sandwich, they did not make up for the poorly-fried, dry chicken or the untoasted buns.
Understandably, the employees assemble the food this way in order to be prepared for the explosive crowd that surges through Town and Country every weekday. However, small improvements to their technique could drastically improve the quality and experience of the food for their customers.
For example, they could assemble the chicken sandwiches as we order them, assuring that the buns stay dry. Additionally, they could use heat lamps or some other form of warmth to ensure that the sandwiches stay somewhat warm.
The sandwich was, to say the least, a disappointment.The following day, I went once again to Tony’s, hopes still high, certain that their fried chicken would be better than the sandwich I had ordered. After all, the sandwiches were pre-made and meant to cater to the masses of Paly students.
This time, I decided to order the three-piece fried chicken, which came in at $11. The chicken looked promising, with a crispy, even breading. However, biting into the first piece changed my mind. The fried chicken was mediocre in terms of seasoning, texture and taste. After these two trips, I came to a reasonable conclusion: the food at Tony’s is too expensive and comes in too small of a portion, and the food that is reasonably priced is of terrible quality. Compared to other restaurants in Town and Country, Tony’s is close to the bottom of the ladder.
However, Tony’s Fast Chicken has potential. Being the only place in Town and Country where one can get fried chicken, they already have a niche menu. However, they have much to improve upon.
With no indoor seating and meals being delivered in cardboard boxes, it feels that they are only geared towards Paly students. How will they plan to survive the summer, when students are no longer their biggest customer?
Additionally, they need to seriously rethink their menu, not only in pricing, but in terms of content as well. Many customers are not going to a fried chicken eatery to order a baked fish sandwich, so why offer that in the first place?
Should Tony’s Fast Chicken reconsider its menu pricing and content, as well as food quality, it would definitely be a top dog in Town and Country. If not, they could crash, and crash hard.