Chkn Chop gets a fresh start

Photo: Bruce Murray

An accidental fire gives the North End resto a chance to start anew

The aroma of roasting chicken briefly fills the air as I turn the corner from Clifton onto North Street. It smells of quality, without excess. It won’t stick to those waiting for the bus, nor to passersby. Instead, it lingers in the moment. Passing two houses, a brewery, and a pizza shop, I come to its source. With large white letters that contrast from the black backdrop, the sign reads: Chkn Chop

Jenna Mooers is on the phone, steering a customer through the menu. “That one would be more spicy than the pita,” she says, taking the order towards the end of the lunch rush. A man in his mid-20s finishes his meal and gets up to leave while a couple chat softly between bites. It’s Wednesday afternoon, and the sun beams off the restaurant’s white, red, and green tones. 

“We all met in Montreal,” says Mooers, explaining the collaborative efforts of her, her husband, and his cousin that went into making the restaurant. “I lived there for almost 10 years, and there was a rotisserie chicken shop in every neighbourhood.” 

What North End lacks in chicken, it makes up in its doughnuts, craft breweries, cafés, and second-hand shops. Ten years ago, the hotspot that North End has 

become would have been on the brink; real estate prices were on the rise, and gentrification was in sight. 

Around that same time, in 2012, Mooers and her husband moved back to Halifax, where she’s from. In 2017, they took over the location for Chkn Chop, “before (they) even had a concept for the restaurant,” she says. “The location chose us.” 

Rotisserie chicken is the specialty — paired with sides like macaroni and cheese, brussels sprouts, and green beans — or in a sandwich or poutine. The drinks menu is the usual North End selection, with offerings like Propeller IPA, Chainyard cider, and Good Robot seltzer, plus several Nova Scotian wines. 

Photo: Bruce Murray

Inside, the dining area feels full in a way a home does, with carefully cultivated décor. You don’t see how things changed. 

Things that, in 2019, burnt and were built again. One night that year, a dryer caught fire in the restaurant. They were closed and no one was hurt. But damage was extensive. 

“You know, we were fully insured, but they don’t make it super easy in commercial insurance disasters,” Mooers says. “And in addition to that, the fire was pretty much contained to our unit. So, it didn’t damage any other buildings or houses in the neighborhood.” 

In the five months of negotiation between Mooers and the insurance company, the North End real estate market had instead ignited. 

“Not often do you get a chance to just start all over a year and a half in,” Mooers says. “So that was one of the cool things that did come out of burning your restaurant down, you get the chance to start again.” 

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