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Familiar name gets recycled: see video

There are more than a few familiar things about one of the new restaurants in town, Coates Fried Chicken and Burgers, at 353 W. Bonita Ave. in the Village.

First, the name. Co-owners Travis Flood and Matt Fong, avid cyclists, took their name from Coates Cyclery, the beloved bicycle shop that closed in 2017 after 82 years in business.

See short video showing what cooking at Coates

“We’ve been cyclists, my partner and I, for years,” Mr. Flood said. “Coates was our bike shop. We bought our bikes there. Corey [McCroskey], the owner, became a good friend of ours. We were bummed when they closed down.”

While brainstorming names for the business, the pair decided using Coates would be a nice tribute.

“Travis and Matt were a big part of Coates [Cyclery] and vice versa, with me supporting their ventures,” Mr. McCroskey said. “And we share a lot of friends in the cycling community. They asked if they could use the name, and I said sure no problem. It’s really a friendship thing. It was very nice of them to think of me.”

Coates Fried Chicken and Burgers opened January 23 in the former Grizzby’s Biscuits and Donuts location, which Mr. Flood and Mr. Fong also owned. With Grizzby’s business not where they wanted it to be, they started talking about making a change last November. They considered selling donuts by day and burgers by night.

 “Ultimately we just thought that it would be confusing to people,” Mr. Flood said. “We just decided to just change the whole thing.”

Closing a business and retooling to open another at the same location can be costly and time consuming. This time though, the changeover work was minimal.

“It wasn’t that much at all,” Mr. Flood said. “We turned the donut fryer into the chicken fryer, we already had a flat-top, and another little fryer for French fries, and we had more than enough adequate storage space. We removed the donut glazing table and the donut proofer and just kind of reconfigured some stuff, but we really didn’t put any money into the equipment at all.”

Coates is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Door Dash and Grub Hub will deliver.

The menu includes fried chicken sandwiches, chicken wings and strips, salads, burgers, hot dogs and fries. The choice to limit the actual fried chicken piece selection to wings and strips only was a matter of streamlining.

“People come into the Village and they want to get in and out for lunch,” Mr. Flood said. “It just takes a lot longer to do that. We didn’t want people to have to wait. We just decided that wasn’t our forté.”

One holdover from Grizzby’s is the popular fried chicken biscuit, though it’s now on a bun.

“That’s what people want around here,”?Mr. Flood said. “They’re coming in here and they’re eating a lot of that.”

For those who shy away from fried foods, Coates has The Free Bird sandwich, which is a brined chicken breast that is grilled. The menu includes two salads: a Caesar with chicken, and a Fried Chicken Salad with celery, cilantro, green onion, radish and a mustard vinaigrette.

And for vegetarians, Coates offers an Impossible Burger, made with a plant-based meat substitute.

Coates’ chicken is antibiotic free, and is brined for a full day before being soaked in buttermilk for about 18 hours. The custom blend Angus beef patties are shaped by hand, the buns made with non-GMO flour, and the lettuce, onions and tomatoes are sliced fresh for each service. Chicken and fries are fried as orders come in and the burgers are grilled on the spot.

“We really take being made fresh to heart,” Mr. Flood said. “Being a chef and working in this industry for 25-plus years, I try to look at the simple things that make a great product.”

The cycling connection is all over the menu. “Ma’s Sauce,” their burger spread, is named after Mr. McCroskey’s mother. “We all referred to her as ‘Ma,’” Mr. Flood said. “She was [at Coates Cyclery] all the time. We also have a hot dog, ‘The Sophie Dog,’ named after one of Corey’s kids.”

Coates’ Ridge Fries pay homage to the popular, challenging cycling route from Glendora Mountain Road to Mt. Baldy, and The Lodge Burger got its moniker from the Mt. Baldy Lodge, another popular destination for cyclists.

“For our group of friends, they all get it, understand it, and like it, and it works,” Mr. Flood said of the cycling theme. “We just tend to lean toward that part of the community. They’re a bunch of great individuals and they’ve supported us in our different projects.”

Their timing might just be right for a fried chicken spot. Fried chicken is having a culinary renaissance. Los Angeles’ Howlin’ Ray’s, with its spicy, Nashville style fried chicken, has lines around the block every dayn. The Pomona institution Donahoo’s, on Garey Avenue, is the go-to for locals.

Mr. Flood says he’s not competing with either.

“We’ve seen [the trendy LA chicken restaurants], we’ve been to them,” Mr. Flood said. “We’re not really trying to duplicate them. We’ve been there, and we’ve done that. I’ve worked in three-star Michelin fine dining spots for a long time, so I understand the creativity part of it.

“When push comes to shove, most of the time people just want a really well cooked burger or a perfectly cooked hot dog and a toasty bun. Our base menu is designed to be just good, straightforward food. You come in, you know what to expect, and just keep on producing quality stuff.”

—Mick Rhodes

mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com