The term “juke joint” has a legacy rooted in the African American community of the US southeast, and it refers to a lively almost informal hang out spot where there was music, dancing, and drinking. Aimed at giving everyday folks in the community a place to unwind where they could feel at ease, it’s the spirit of the “juke joint” that has inspired Vancouver’s Juke, a fried chicken restaurant opening up in Chinatown.
Behind Juke is the industry vet trio of Justin Tisdall (former Chambar GM), Bryan Satterford (former Hawksworth sous chef), and Cord Jarvie (of Meat & Bread fame), and they aim to create a relaxed restaurant with great grub that offers a welcoming vibe.
Offering a full service dinner menu, and an all-day take out window, Juke is all about fried chicken and all the trimmings.
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Tisdall tells Daily Hive via telephone that Satterford’s vision for the food was quite clear from the get-go, and aligned with his (and Jarvie’s) longtime intention to give Vancouver a top-notch fried chicken spot.
“It’s really good North America home cooking,” Tisdall says of Juke’s food, adding they offer a “high level of execution” that’s “very much on trend [by being] local, organic, and sustainable.”
Sourcing high quality ingredients, Juke is serving up a fried chicken that also happens to be gluten-free. The fact that their main menu item happens to work for so many with a gluten-free diet was a happy accident, Tisdall admits.
As it just happens, their buttermilk-brined chicken worked best when they used a mix of potato and corn starch for the coating. “Gluten-fee was the best way to go,” explains Tisdall. “It keeps [the coating] super crunchy.”
To get primed for Juke, the team also hit the road to test out other great fried chicken in other cities. “We definitely ate a lot of chicken,” laughs Tisdall.
Juke will have plated chicken dishes along with ribs, a chicken sandwich, and sides (biscuits, slaw, and the like) on their dining room menu, which will be available from 5 pm to close. You can expect composed plates with Satterford’s elevated flair.
However, guests can also hit up Juke’s takeout window starting at 11 am daily for the take out version of many of their core dishes; the takeout window will be open until 11 pm, for those who crave their fried chicken later at night.
Those opting to dine-in will find a fuller menu (Tisdall notes a whole fried fish dish, as well as extra side options), and in about a month they’ll launch brunch service. One thing Tisdall says he hopes will be a signature brunch option would be “Birds and Bubbles,” as in pairing fried chicken with one of the many sparkling wines on Juke’s list.
Speaking of libations, Tisdall says Juke will have a robust list of custom cocktails designed to compliment the food (think lighter and brighter to cut the heft of a fried chicken meal).
Lucky attendees of Brewery & the Beast got to some Juke grub, and they’ve held a couple of “friends and family” invite-only dinners this week to gear up for their opening.
The 38-seater boasts design by PLY architecture and Glasfurd & Walker, and Tisdall says Juke is their version of a “modern day farmhouse,” complete with lots of brick, woods, metal, and textures. “It’s modern and rustic at the same time,” elaborates Tisdall, adding that their vintage touches “pair well with the sleekness of the modern elements.” Plans for a patio are in the works, too.
Juke has been a three-year plan in the making for Tisdall and the team, though those years were full of finding spaces that just didn’t seem to fit. Chinatown’s Keefer block proved to be what they were looking for. It also happens to be a stone’s throw from Vancouver’s historic black core, Hogan’s Alley.
“It’s exciting to be in Chinatown,” adds Tisdall, with a nod to block-mates like Bao Bei and Juniper. “There are lots of people walking by all the time–people of all different backgrounds.”
And for Juke, this is also perfect, because that’s what Tisdall and his partners had hoped for–and, in a way, that’s what a juke joint is meant to be. Tisdall says Juke will be “a fun room with great staff, so that if anyone comes in here they feel at home, comfortable, and welcome.”
Address: 182 Keefer Street, Vancouver