After closing its Town and Country pop-up store on Jan. 5, Fast Tony’s Chicken rebranded as Roost House and relocated to downtown with a new focus on dietary trends and youth mentorship programs, according to owner Frank Klein.
Klein said Oren’s Hummus will open a new shop at Tony’s Chicken’s former Town and Country location within a month.
Oren’s Hummus Senior Account Manager of Public RelationsBrooke Secor said they cannot confirm any new Oren’s Hummus locations.
Klein cited space concerns as a reason for the move.
“We wanted 30 interior seats and beer and wine and a cool beverage program, (none) of which we could have had at Town and Country (due to limited space and city restrictions on alcohol),” Klein said.
“We love Town and Country — the landlords are the best and fairest in the business. But we decided, in the end, we wanted to do a more upscale neighborhood restaurant.”
Klein, who co-founded and served as CEO of the Asian Box restaurant chain until Aug. 1, 2018, said Roost House plans to use catering and delivery to build clientele for the store’s official opening in March at 561 Emerson St.
Junior Jackson Druker, who regularly purchased lunch from Fast Tony’s Chicken last year, said the restaurant’s shift to upscale cuisine might make it a less appealing option for some students.
“I don’t think that a place that serves fried chicken should be a formal, sit-down restaurant,”
According to Klein, however, Roost House used concepts their chefs experimented with at the Town and Country location to create a menu more aligned with the needs of the community. The main changes include the addition of salads, grain dishes and alcoholic beverage options.
“Now, Roost House is the elevated brand of Fast Tony’s — still great food (and) an expanded menu,” Klein said.
Klein said he plans to open more Roost House restaurants eventually, and believes his prior experience with Asian Box will contribute to their continued success.
“As CEO of Asian Box, I took (my food) to 10 stores, (and it) all started at Town and Country,” Klein said.
According to Klein, Roost House plans to contribute to the Palo Alto community with every new location through mentorship initiatives and donations to local charities.
“My co-founding partner in Asian Box, Chad Newton, and I have always been involved in mentoring in our industry,” Klein said. “The (mentorship) program now will entirely be run by my new restaurant Roost House, which is entirely separate from Asian Box.”
Klein said the Roost House Freight Farm Entrepreneur Initiative, one of the restaurant’s new initiatives, will utilize and develop the skills of local youth by giving them the opportunity to contribute to the growth and preparation of the restaurant’s food. A freight farm is a modified shipping container with artificial lighting and nutrient dispersion that allows the owner to grow various plants at any time of year.
“The new program has morphed into a freight farm program where the students (and) kids in the program will be able to run their own micro-business that will provide vegetables for multiple restaurants,” Klein said.
Sophomore Winter Hope is the first student to participate in the program at the new location and will bake desserts for the new restaurant, something she hopes to continue later in her career.
“Mr. Klein has offered me a possible position (making) desserts for his new restaurant Roost House,” Hope said. “I would be mentored by him and some of his staff.”
Hope said spending time in the Roost House kitchen will provide her with unique insights into the restaurant business and the specifics of its operations.
“I think (the program is) really cool because it gives students a chance to experience if they want to go into the restaurant field,” Hope said.
Klein said Roost House aims to eventually expand its student initiatives to include more kids who want to pursue culinary arts from different geographical areas.
“We are still exploring different corporate partners that want to be a part of the growth of this program, potentially locally and nationally,” Klein said.
According to Hope, the mentorship of local students might encourage people to support the restaurant.
“I think this is a really great thing for the community because they get to see that Paly (students) are working at this restaurant and people can be drawn to that,” Hope said.
Klein said he also plans to use profits from Roost House to advance local development by donating to hospitals and other organizations.
“Asian Box gives 3 percent of their catering revenues to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital,” Klein said. “Roost House will give back through our initiatives and involvement with local charities as well.”
According to Klein, these practices represent his philosophy of active community involvement.
Klein said, “The more you are involved in the community for the right reasons, the more the community supports your business.”