June 24 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A popular Korean-style chicken restaurant that closed in August after a fire ripped through its storefront is set to reopen next month.
Mad For Chicken, known for its specialty fried chicken dishes, will reopen the 43-16 Queens Blvd. restaurant in two weeks. The reopening comes nearly a year after a fire caused significant damage to the premises — along with several other adjoining businesses that were all situated in the same building on the corner of Queens Boulevard and 44th Street.
Clinton Oh, who co-owns the restaurant, said he is relieved to finally reopen. He said it’s been a difficult year since the business went up in flames.
“We are excited to be opening again,” said Oh. “It has been a tough time for our team and staff but we are optimistic with all the support [we have received].”
Oh said that the renovation work on the premises is almost complete, with the roof and flooring having been repaired and his furniture and other fixtures replaced.
The restaurant initially opened in September 2020 with the fire destroying the business within 12 months of being in operation.
The fire broke out at around 7:20 a.m. on Aug. 12 inside Bajeko Sakuwa Himalayan Grill, located in the same building as Mad For Chicken. An FDNY report later concluded that the blaze was caused by an electrical issue at the Himalayan restaurant.
More than 200 fire and EMS personnel responded to the four-alarm fire that resulted in several businesses having to close, including Taiyo Foods, a Japanese grocery and convenience store.
Mad For Chicken will be the first of those shuttered businesses to reopen on the block. Taiyo Foods has reopened but in a new location— at 42-02 43rd Ave. The owner of Taiyo said it was too costly to return to the 44th Street/Queens Boulevard location given the severity of the fire damage.
Oh said the fire has proved costly especially given how new his restaurant is.
“Financially opening a new restaurant and then reopening is not an easy task,” Oh said.
Oh is also a partner in Mad Café, another small business on the block affected by the fire that was forced to close. Oh said that Mad Café will eventually reopen too although he does not know when.
Mad For Chicken was established by businessman Sean Cho in 2005 when he opened a location at 157-18 Northern Blvd. in Flushing. The company has since been turned into a franchise with more than a dozen other locations across the U.S. There are currently four Mad For Chicken locations open in Queens with its other outposts being in Astoria, Bayside and Forest Hills.
The Sunnyside location, Oh said, is one of the company’s largest in terms of size with seating for about 120 people spread across two floors.
Oh said the Sunnyside location will continue to offer traditional favorites from Mad For Chicken’s signature fried chicken menu which includes scallion chicken, drumsticks and wings, buffalo wings and boneless chicken breasts. Other items on offer will include the mac and cheese melt, nachos, salads and kimchi fries.
He said that the restaurant will also be offering the company’s new range of bowl dishes, called “Mad For Bowls,” which consist of various meat options mixed with white rice or quinoa.
- The restaurant will also have new drinks such as bubble teas on top of its regular range of draft beers and lager. There will also be an updated dessert menu, while the restaurant will also be offering brunch in the coming months.
Opening hours will be from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Sundays.