West Richland restaurant combines chicken wings and fine wines

When you have a hankering for deep-fried chicken and a glass of high quality Red Mountain wine, there’s only one place to go — The Chicken Shack in West Richland.

“I know it sounds odd but it works,” said Steve LaMarr.

LaMarr and his wife, Tracy, and partner Ken Poletski, opened The Chicken Shack, at 4390 W. Van Giesen St. in early December. It’s in half of a former feed store that closed a few years ago.

The LaMarrs bought the building with Poletski, a longtime friend and Tri-City real estate agent. Poletski’s office is in half the building. The Chicken Shack and their other business, Winenotes, occupy the remainder.

The Chicken Shack is one of a small chain of franchises with other locations in Nevada, California, Oregon and South Carolina.

As the name says, the menu features chicken — your choice of all white meat chicken tenders or jumbo-size wings — either deep-fried or grilled. The menu also offers a chicken sandwich, wraps and several burgers. The chili is made onsite, as are the side dishes.

“Even the coleslaw, macaroni salad and potato salad. Some of the Chicken Shacks buy their salads pre-made but I just couldn’t see doing that not when The Chicken Shack prides itself on using all fresh, never frozen meats,” said Renee Fulfer, restaurant manager.

Prices range from $6 to $10 with several party packs available ranging from $35 to $95.

“Nearly half our business is take out,” said Fulfer.

After the LaMarrs and Poletski bought into The Chicken Shack franchise and designed and built the restaurant, they had 900-1,000 sq. ft. of extra space leftover.

At first Steve LaMarr, who also owns StoneCrest Buildders, considered moving his home-based office into the building.

“We enjoy building homes and have no intention of stopping,” he said. “But we’ve been wanting to diversify a bit. Construction is a bit of a rollercoaster, so we’d been researching restaurant franchises.”

But they weren’t happy with the way many of the franchises were structured. A niece visiting from California told them about The Chicken Shack chain.

“They’re small — just about eight or nine locations — and she manages three of them in Redding, Calif. Tracy and I drove down to check them out and were able to meet the founder. We liked what he had to say — to do one thing, do it well and keep it simple,” said Steve LaMarr.

It was Tracy LaMarr who suggested turning the unnecessary space into an intimate wine bar specializing, mainly, in Red Mountain wines.

“They’re what we enjoy drinking when we go out. But we have a hard time finding a restaurant with many on their wine list,” he said.

A hallway separates the two establishments. Winenotes has its own manager, Yvonne Berry, who’s well versed in the wine industry. There’s also a separate “small plates” menu, but everything on The Chicken Shack items from the Chicken Shack menu can also be ordered and enjoyed in the wine bar. And the wines served at Winenotes, can be ordered and served in the Chicken Shack.

“Anything we have can be served in either room. It just depends on where you want to sit,” said Yvonne Berry.

As the weather improves, the LaMarrs plan to open up the rear patio for dining and music.

“I have a lot of friends who are musicians and the patio would be a great place to incorporate live music,” said Steve LaMarr, who’s love of music and wine inspired Winenotes name.

What the two businesses don’t share are the same days and hours of operation.

The Chicken Shack, at 4390 W. Van Giesen St. in West Richland, is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. The phone number is 509-967-1807. Find the business on Facebook or go to the website, www.chickenshacktc.com.

Winenotes Wine Bar is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. The phone number is 509-967-1740. More information can be found at www.visitwinenotes.com or find them on Facebook.

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