Catching up with Justin Tisdall of Juke Fried Chicken

Feb 28 2022, 7:54 pm

Justin Tisdall is the co-owner, along with Bryan Satterford, of Juke Fried Chicken, in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown.

The two joined forces in 2016 to open what’s become one of the city’s most frequented restaurants, cocktail bars, and takeout locations.

Juke boasts a menu of mouthwatering crunchy fried chicken, sweet and spicy wings, pork ribs, and chicken nuggets. Sides include corn chicken fritters, cornbread, and fried Brussels sprouts.

The Chickadee Room, launched in 2020, is an intimate cocktail room inside the former Juke dine-in location that serves up an array of original handcrafted cocktails with names like Bongo Wolf, Emotional Rescue, and Thunderball.

When Tisdall’s not at the restaurant running operations, PR, and marketing, you’ll find him running around after his two kids, cooking at home, and taking care of his health.

We caught up with Justin this week to talk about Black History Month, Juke Fried Chicken, and how he’s adjusting to restaurant life through the pandemic.

As a Black man and business owner, what does Black History Month mean to you? 

It’s a time to remember the sacrifices our predecessors and ancestors have made. It’s also a time to reflect on the accomplishments the people of the past have achieved. We can now use this month as a chance to look forward to where we are going as a people.

This month gives us a platform to highlight the work (in all fields – sociopolitical, business, activism, educational) that we are doing on a daily basis. 

What inspired you to open Juke Fried Chicken?

Juke was inspired by my hometown and my finicky eating habits. In Toronto, whenever I go home to visit there are always great lounges you can go have a drink and listen to great music. In Vancouver, you only have the option of a restaurant or a club, and nothing really in between.

So, the idea was to open a small, fun room where guests can come and eat great food, and just have a good time. My business partner and I have worked on and off with one another for 15 years. When it came time to make my business plan into a reality, my wife said, “Bryan is the only person you should do this with.” I pitched the idea to Bryan Satterford, he added some of his own ideas and the rest is history. 

Tell us about Tuesday Tales with Juke, those fun and engaging social media posts you put out every week. We’re big fans over here.

Ha, this stemmed from me seeing that people want to feel connected to the people/products/stores that they love. You can see it on Instagram followers, how people are following musicians and actors and so forth. I know that we have a great loyal customer base that is super engaged with our social outlets. We also get a lot of future restaurateurs asking us questions about how to open and operate a business.

So, really, we wanted to let people into the Juke world of how we came to be, and some of the great success and some major pitfalls that happened during the opening. It’s a fun way for us to go back and remember where we came from and look forward to where we are going.  It’s great to hear the feedback on why people are gravitating to these as we know without this interaction, Juke would not exist, and there would be no tales to tell!

You put out some other great content. How has being active and original on social helped you grow your business? 

TikTok is the new social media.

It’s massive, but also so new, so we can play around and try more fun techniques and videos to enhance our brand. Juke is a brand of the people. We made Juke to make everyone feel welcome and a part of our growth and success. This is a chance for us to show off our guests and what we love about what we do. 

It’s been a rough two years. How have you and the team adapted throughout the pandemic? 

As the business is just me and Bryan as owners we are fortunate that we could adapt and pivot quickly. We managed to create our Cocktail & Snack Bar, The Chickadee Room, and we also were able to create some packaged items. 

Also, our main focus was reinvesting in our staff that was helping us keep our doors open.  We knew if restaurants were going down, we’d go down fighting, so we used the time to create The Chickadee Room and give our Cocktail & Dining Room its own identity.

What’s the highlight of your career at Juke? 

Honestly, I think all the staff that is still with us is huge. We are just a chicken shop and the staff has been with us for years. Also, being the first independent chicken shop to open, I guess it’s cool that we started that trend.

My partnership with Bryan has been great for us and the business. Lastly, being open for six years now, probably five more than we expected. I joke, but there are no guarantees in restaurants. 

What’s the best music to cook to? 

Anything that makes you feel good. If you feel good the food will be made with a bit more love & and care. I prefer any good school hip hop. 

Name three things you can’t live without. 

My wife, my kids, music. All keep me going and reinvigorate me. 

What are some other must-visit local businesses in Vancouver? 

Bao Bei, Phnom Penh, and Published on Main

Sean LoughranSean Loughran

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