New chicken joint finds its home in Stadium Village

Fly Chix, a fried-chicken restaurant founded by two successful restaurateurs, opened last month in Stadium Village.

The+green+line+light+rail+rushes+past+Fly+Chix+in+Stadium+Village+on+Tuesday%2C+Oct.+27.

Kamaan Richards

The green line light rail rushes past Fly Chix in Stadium Village on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Samantha Woodward, City Reporter

When Asian fusion sushi joint SotaRol shuttered in March due to the pandemic, its owner reimagined how he would utilize the Stadium Village location. Six months after closing SotaRol, Aaron Switz opened Fly Chix after seeing the success of other chicken restaurants around the University of Minnesota.

Fly Chix, a new fried-chicken joint, opened its first brick and mortar location in Stadium Village last month at 309 Oak Street SE next door to Kimchi Tofu House and less than a block from Stub and Herbs.

Switz, who co-founded Fly Chix, described the new restaurant as a made-from-scratch, picnic-style place specializing in fried chicken sandwiches. He saw the success of Raising Cane’s in both Dinkytown and Stadium Village and decided to create his own take, alongside Fly Chix’s executive chef, catered toward college students.

“It kind of shows that there’s a big appetite in general in America, as well as on-campus, that the kids like chicken, and we wanted to be a part of that,” Switz said.

Fly Chix started off as a “ghost kitchen” in Edina, only offering delivery and takeout with limited hours. Switz and his team said the isolation period at the start of the pandemic was the perfect time to construct the new restaurant’s brand.

Essi Tadrus, co-founder and executive chef of Fly Chix, said third-party delivery services have been monumental to building a customer base during the pandemic.

“If customers don’t feel comfortable going out of their house, being able to use that third-party delivery has just been amazing,” Tadrus said.

Switz said the lack of foot traffic that would come alongside in-person classes has made it difficult to increase the restaurant’s visibility for students. He said that most of their customers so far have been from the nearby hospital.

With the lack of dine-in seating and a majority of their orders being takeout, “it’s always been tricky to try and learn how to connect with the community and let people know that we are here,” Switz said.

Both Tadrus and Switz have years of successful experience in the restaurant industry.

Tadrus, chef and founder of BAM BBQ, grew up as an “army brat” and found comfort in American cuisine. He started cooking from a young age and opened his first restaurant at 19 years old, about 15 years ago. He now lives in Tampa, Florida, about an hour-and-a-half drive from BAM BBQ.

Switz is the co-founder and CEO of multiple regional restaurants and chains, including Agra Culture Kitchen, Yogurt Lab, Yumi’s Sushi and La Grolla. He moved to Minnesota in 1996 from Arizona and currently lives in the Twin Cities.

Throughout Stadium Village, the pandemic has led to the recent shuttering of many restaurants, including Applebee’s, Bar Luchador and the temporary closures of Punch Pizza and Naf Naf Grill.

The Fly Chix team hopes to better connect with local University students in the future as people become more comfortable with eating out.

“I’ve been in a lot of places and worked in a lot of different cities, so — the U of M, working here — it’s so exciting because the students bring such an energy when they come into our Fly Chix,” Tadrus said. “It makes it very, very fun, and that’s why I love being there.”