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Inventing the Future: Wishbone serves up fried chicken (and community) in University City

Customers lined up at Wishbone

Out with the old at Wishbone

Wishbone's fried chicken

Recently, Flying Kite has covered a surge in residential and mixed-use development in University City. The University City District's 2012 Annual Report showed an increase of 22,000 new jobs over the last decade, with a 10 percent population increase projected by 2015. Successful new outposts of popular brands, such as Yogorino and Shake Shack, have followed this trend and opened in the neighborhood. 

The area's latest delicious amentity? Fried chicken. On October 28, chefs Alan Segel and Dave Clouser opened Wishbone at 4034 Walnut Street and sold out of food within hours. That pattern continued for the first few days, but resolved when Clouser began placing chicken orders exceeding 300 pounds.

"Penn students come from over 100 countries, and every culture and cuisine has some form of fried chicken," says Erica Hope, general manager at Wishbone. "It's something everyone gets."

Wishbone's location -- at the former site of neighborhood institution Lee's Hoagie House, which closed in July after 28 years -- is integral to its business plan. Both Drexel alums, Segel and Clouser hope to model Wishbone's relationship to the community after its predecessor. 

"Lee's was a huge member of the community, not just due to their food but also because of the people behind the counter," recalls Hope, also a Drexel alum. "They set the standard for interaction, which we strive to meet and exceed."

One of the most direct ways that Wishbone will carry on Lee's legacy is in hiring Donald Klipstein, who worked at the sandwich shop for 27 years. Klipstein's experience has made him an "irreplaceable" employee; he creates Wishbone's housemade juices, teas and dipping sauces, and will be kickstarting its delivery service in the near future.

Wishbone is also fostering a relationship with Penn's Greek community, offering complete buy-outs of the restaurant for their private special events.

For Segel and Clouser, the decision to open in University City felt natural, especially after successful stints in fine dining on the Main Line. "We are all from Philly, so we want to stay in Philly," says Segel. "With Wishbone, we get to indulge our creative culinary side, while also building a lasting local presence."

"We feel like freshman entering a new semester in school -- we are eager to meet our new neighbors and exchange ideas," he adds. "Beyond just great food, we are looking forward to being a local hangout. We have a lot of cool ideas up our sleeve that we will roll out bit-by-bit.”

Wishbone is currently hiring. Interested candidates should call (215) 921-3204 or email info@wishbonephilly.com.

Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Erica Hope, Wishbone

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