You Can Gamble on this Chicken

By Johnette Rodriguez / Photography By Alex Braunstein | June 09, 2016
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In 2011, two chefs married to two sisters—Chad and Julia Hoffer and Tyler and Anna Burnley—created a terrific gourmet, locally sourced restaurant on lower Thames Street in Newport, Thames Street Kitchen or TSK. Then, in 2013, they decided to try their hand at burgers and dogs, and Mission, on Marlborough Street, became a downtown hot spot.

Now they’ve embarked on a new adventure called Winner Winner, after the popular phrase “Winner, winner, chicken dinner,” which urban legend attributes to gambling in Las Vegas and winning enough to buy a three-piece chicken dinner.

This new eatery’s three-piece chicken dinner, with a scrumptious biscuit and your choice of a seasonal side is, indeed, a winner. The chicken is, according to former TSK chef/W inner Winner co-owner Steve Yerger, “the happiest we could afford,” from the Amish farms of northern Indiana and southern Michigan. Thus, it’s hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free-range. The chicken is either fried or rotisseried and comes in a sandwich, as a two- or three-piece combo or even as a bucket, with eight or 12 pieces.

Accompanying the chicken are such side dishes as “mashers and gravy,” mac ‘n’ cheese, blackeyed peas and ham, potato salad, housepickled veggies or green salad. Beverages include old-fashioned sodas, lemonade and the real winner: hibiscus sweet tea.

This “chicken shack” (in the former TSK space) uses stacked milk crates with wooden tops for stools and benches, set along five pinetopped tables-for-eight, so that the atmosphere is like an indoor picnic (there’s a bit more seating at the bar and along a corner bench). The deep green frondy wallpaper matches the green wainscoting below it, and there are three chicken portraits: one “dressed” in finery, another in overalls, the third in an apron and chef’s hat.

Winner Winner has a “different vibe” than TSK, Yerger points out, and it is definitely attracting more people from the neighborhood. And that aspect makes it a winning endeavor for him and his partners.

677 Thames St., Newport, RI. Hours: T–Th 11 am–9 pm; F–Sa 11 am–10 pm; Su 11 am–9 pm. 401.848.CHIX;

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