Craftbird food truck owner opens restaurant in Newington with popular chicken dishes


The Craftbird landed at Newington. The food truck, which has been selling to the chicken-loving Hartford community for five years, opened a store at 1044 Main Street in early September.

“The trucks were in full swing. It was time for a brick and mortar, ”said Eric Stagl of Simsbury, who founded Craftbird with one truck in 2016 and added another in 2019.

Stagl brought in his friend Will Sugrue from Middletown to help launch the brick and mortar in Newington. Sugrue said he believed in the concept. The small location focuses on take-out, but has 15 seats.

“Even before the pandemic, the industry was moving towards this concept, a more relaxed atmosphere, fast service,” he said. Sugrue said this was just the start.

“The goal is not a store. That’s a lot of stores, ”Sugrue said. “Once we get this perfect one and figure out what we want to do, we’ll think about it for a second.”

Fans of Craftbird’s “Sandos and Tenders” will think the store is already perfect. All the dishes that the food truck made famous in the Hartford area are on the menu. The trucks were turning three sandwiches at a time. The store has all six at a time, made with chicken thighs marinated in buttermilk.

“Sandos” include the popular YardBird, with sriracha honey and pickles; The Red-Bird with firecracker sauce and coleslaw; the Hot-Bird with hot sauce, ranch and shredded lettuce; the Biscuit-Bird with pickles and jalapeño jelly on a cookie; and bacon-avocado-chicken and barbecue-onion-American cheese sandwiches.

The fillets, made from chicken breasts, are offered with a buffalo sauce or a dry side. Other dishes include street corn salad, crispy Brussels sprouts, potato wedges, truffle macaroni and cheese bites, Buffalo chicken dip, and cream-based ice cream sandwiches vanilla ice cream and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Everything on the menu can be made gluten-free, using rice flour and a deep fryer used exclusively for gluten-free frying.

Hosmer Mountain sodas are served. Stagl said he was considering “football packs,” Sunday take-out food that feeds a crowd, and other promotions.

As the store starts up, food trucks continue to tour local breweries, Brignole Vineyards in East Granby, GastroPark in West Hartford and other places where hungry people congregate.

The store is open Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on weekends from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Stagl has stated that once staff are in place it will open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Susan Dunne can be reached at [email protected].

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