The Chicken Coop was opened by two brothers, Oswald and Robert Jones, in 1937 at 9615 Cedar Avenue, a location that had previously been the Bee Club and, before that, a meat market. Specializing in shack fried chicken, the short-lived Chicken Coop was part of the bustling Cedar–East 97th area, which was emerging as the newest hub of African American entertainment and nightlife in the 1930s.
The Chicken Coop started as a modest business with the intent to expand, but despite earning a listing in the Green Book in 1938, the restaurant did not survive through that year. Perhaps tellingly, the restaurant only seemed to gain much local attention when an employee, Robert Wright, accidentally shot himself in the foot, and this was before the restaurant officially opened.
Although the Chicken Coop only lasted less than one year, the location continued to serve as the site of future restaurants. In fact, U. S. Dearing, who later operated the popular Green Book–listed Dearing’s in Glenville, opened his Dearing’s Tasty Shop and Rainbow Room in and above the former Chicken Coop quarters in November 1938, but his establishments also lasted only a few months, as did the Stephens Restaurant, which closed only two months after opening in September 1939. After the war, the site served stints as a restaurant, beauty salon, and record store between the 1950s and ’70s.
Green Book Details
The Chicken Coop appears in the 1938 Green Book at 9615 Cedar Ave. under the category Restaurants.
- “Chicken Coop is Shooting Scene.” Call & Post. December 2, 1937.
- Display Ads. Call & Post. January 13, 1934, November 10, 1938, November 16, 1939, October 25, 1952, March 9, 1957, August 10, 1968, August 6, 1977.
- “Hits Safety Zone When Steering Gear Fails.” Call & Post. April 1, 1937.
- “Mrs. Stephens Opens New Restaurant.” Call & Post. September 14, 1939.
- “The Cozy Chicken Coop.” Call & Post. January 13, 1938.