Making a Name for: Honey Butter Fried Chicken / by Julie Schumacher

A Forth Sometimes Series

If you've named a pet or a kid or a business, you know the business of naming is a tricky one. A brilliant name make take months or be a tooth-brushing epiphany. It's something I tackle in my writing life and something I find endlessly interesting. A company's name, and how they got there, tells you a lot full stop. Once in a while I convince one of the women in our community to tell me their business naming story.

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So, yes, naming—it's a tricky thing. Sometimes, though, folks who just get something right can't help but stumble on the right name, too.

And so it was with Honey Butter Fried Chicken.

I sat down with Christine Cikowski, half of the chef duo at Sunday Dinner Club & Honey Butter Fried Chicken and a Fall '14 salon participant to talk turkey. I mean chicken. I mean names.

We start on Sundays. Kind of. Sunday Dinner Club is a not-just-Sundays private dinner club started in Chicago in 2005. With culinary schoolmates including current chef-partner Josh Kulp, the only night that allowed them to cook together, and for themselves, was Sunday. It evolved, as good ideas are wont to do, to a thriving community BYOB supper with seasonal menus.

Their fried chicken dinners, which they started offering in 2008, were always wildly popular. With it and among other things, they served corn griddle cakes with a side of honey butter.

One evening a plate in the back was picked up and tasted. The honey butter had spilled on top of the chicken. And it was glorious. The chefs ran to the dining room with a directive to guests to put the honey butter on the fried chicken. For the next year, they served honey butter fried chicken (no caps) to Sunday Dinner Club's guests and to rave reviews.

Starting a restaurant had been an on-going conversation and with co-partners Jen Mayer and Chris Jennings they settled on honey butter fried chicken as the focal point of their Avondale restaurant, which opened in 2013 also to rave reviews.

So, where did some-caps Honey Butter come in? As we talked, Christine let on that she initially balked at it, that it maybe sounded too much like a bakery. She likes names that are what they are. Nothing cutesy or overly clever. A name should tell you what you are getting, you know?

And so it is with Honey Butter Fried Chicken.

Before I knew the chicken came with a delectable honey butter on top, I knew people loved the chicken and that I liked those words together, whether they were literal or not. Who wouldn't be happy saying 'honey butter' over and over? It's euphonic and fun. It feels Southern and drawn out and decadent and natural, like perhaps one of Julia Sugarbaker's daughter's pet names would be Honey Butter.

It worked. So it stuck.

One happy accident, four happy words.

Stay tuned for fun photos from Sunday Dinner Club next week as we gather there for our Spring salon!