Following a brief three-week winter hiatus, Atomic Chicken is preparing to open its doors again next week with a new restaurant joining its ranks. Co-owner Scott Moloney tells Eater that partner Buffy Campeau will setting up shop inside the New Center restaurant with dishes from her food truck Buffy’s Mexi-Casian Grill.
The new “dual concept” format will allow Atomic Chicken to offer customers some alternatives to its fried chicken and chicken sandwiches, says Moloney, while giving Buffy’s a place to showcase its American and Mexican-influenced food during the mobile restaurant’s winter off-season.
During the brief closure, the restaurant team has been busy removing its chalkboard menus in favor of three video screens that will be updated regularly to feature both Buffy’s and Atomic’s dishes. Both restaurants will share the kitchen space and POS system meaning customers will be able to mix and match their fried chicken with items like tacos and sliders. Atomic will also be updating its menu with a few new items and adjusting prices to make the food “a little bit more affordable,” Moloney says.
Buffy’s is expected to run out of Atomic until food truck season starts again and — depending on how the addition is received — possibly longer. Moloney says the partners have also toyed with turning a portion of Atomic’s space into a casual restaurant incubator. That format give local entrepreneurs opportunities to test their food business startups out of the existing restaurant.
Despite increased development activity in the area, New Center is still an evolving market for restaurant businesses, Moloney admits. “Atomic got off to a great start in the first two or three months,” he says, “and then summer came and we had some air conditioning issues and we lost all of our momentum.” By freshening up the menu, bringing in Buffy’s, and possibly inviting more pop-up restaurant residencies, Moloney hopes to keep customers excited about dining out in the neighborhood.
As for Atomic’s temporarily shuttered location in Clawson, Moloney says he still owns the building and is slowly working to address some issues with the property including resurfacing the parking lot. Whether the restaurant will still trade in chicken though remains to be seen. “I can’t promise it’s going to be an Atomic Chicken,” he says.
Atomic Chicken and Buffy’s Mexi-Casian Grill are anticipating reopening on January 24. Stay tuned.