Fried chicken and fare-thee-wells

Pizza place adds fried chicken chain to its menu; two booze-related businesses shutter doors

Anyone who’s stepped foot inside Chicago’s Pizza With a Twist in the Safeway shopping center at West Sacramento and Nord avenues is in for a shock next time, as the already quirky pizza parlor has introduced yet another twist (the first: it’s a mashup of Indian and Italian cuisines). As of last Thursday evening (April 4), its front counter now features a large display of fried chicken.

I happened to drive by the place on Friday as they were hanging a sign for Krispy Krunchy Chicken alongside the one advertizing pizza. I decided to stop in, as I’d been meaning to check out the place anyway. It’s, shall we say, eclectic. On one side of the L-shaped counter is fried chicken and several digital menu boards with various combos, sides and other offerings. On the other is pizza-by-the-slice and additional menu boards with the wide range of toppings (from tikka sauce to butter chicken), as well as pastas (curry chicken penne, chicken alfredo), calzones and samosas.

It’s a little overwhelming, but the clerk—who was very friendly and attentive—informed me they hoped to increase business by increasing their offerings. Judging by the traffic the day I was there, which included several groups of after-school kids, the plan was working. About half ordered chicken; the other half, pizza. I have yet to try the latter, but the former was good—similar to Popeye’s, a step above Safeway. (Krispy Krunchy’s headquarters are in Louisiana, as is Popeye’s). And it’s super affordable, to boot. I wish ’em luck.

Sweet farewells Entrepreneur Jesse Smith sent out a note to customers last week informing us that, after seven years in the business, he’s closing Five by Five Tonics, a mostly wholesale outfit headquartered in Chico. I’d tasted some of his creations at local brewers’ events and they were unique and delicious—think flavored bitters and a killer tonic syrup. His online shop ( will be up through the month of April, so go snag a final bottle or three. He also has a book in the works, in case you want to try your hand at starting your own likeminded business. Bitter Startup will be on shelves soon.

Sadly, Hooker Oak Distillery, one of the first establishments in the so-called Booze District along South Park Avenue, also is closing. It sold its last bottles of locally made rum Saturday (April 6). The apple pie flavor was truly something different—and delicious! I’m sorry to see it go.

inspiration This year’s Home and Garden Show—set for this weekend, April 13-14, at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds—promises cool new ideas, especially for those affected by the Camp Fire. There’ll be fire-safe supplies and a chance to meet builders who specialize in quick home rebuilds in fire-stricken areas. I’m particularly interested in checking out the tiny homes, which will be set up for walk-throughs, plus the specialty food hall. And, I look forward to perusing the Chico Horticultural Society’s always-impressive display—maybe this will be the year I finally start a garden! For more info (and $2 off admission), go to