From Buffalo to Erie... Chiavetta's Barbecue Chicken
The Buffalo Bills have gained many new fans in Northwestern Pennsylvania over the past few years due to their success on the football field. But, there's something else from Buffalo that's become a big hit in this area. It's a brand of barbecue chicken that's always cooked juicy and delicious for a worthy cause.
Chiavetta's barbecue chicken is a household name in Buffalo and all of Western New York. Chiavetta's was founded in 1954 in the small town of Brant, New York. Soon after, the Chiavetta family decided they wanted to give back to their community. They started to cook their chicken for fund raisers. Today, the company operates hundreds of fund raising barbecues each year. They set up at churches, schools, and non-profit organizations. Sometimes they do five or six a day all around the Buffalo area.
Jordan Stapf is the Director of Food & Beverage at Chiavetta's.
"There's always chicken cooking. No matter where we are, what day it is, time of year...we're always cooking,” he said.
The Orchard Park American Legion holds a Chiavetta's drive-through fund raiser every Wednesday from April to November. They've done it since May of 2020. Apparently, nobody gets tired of Chiavetta's chicken in Western New York.
George Boller is Board President of the American Legion Post.
"We dubbed it No Cook Wednesday,” he says. “You're not supposed to cook on Wednesday. You're supposed to come and get your Chiavetta's dinner.”
So what is it about this chicken that people find so irresistible? First of all, it's cooked over charcoal in a large, portable pit. It's not like your backyard grill. This chicken is cooked two and a half feet above the coals. The chicken takes one and a half to two hours to cook. And, every time the pieces are flipped, or moved in any way, they are basted with Chiavetta's special sauce. Buffalo has been enjoying the recipe for decades.
"Grandmothers, to parents, to grandkids. They pass it on. So, it's that generational experience of eating Chiavetta's,” says Stapf.
That eating tradition has expanded from the Buffalo area and has now invaded Erie. Just like the Bills, Chiavetta's is seeing a whole new group of fans.
"For us to come down there, put out our product…a Buffalo product expanding into other states is awesome,' says Stapf.
A Chiavetta’s Chicken Barbecue Drive-Through Fund Raiser will be held at Sacred Heart Church at 26th and Liberty Streets in Erie. The date is Sunday, October 9 from 11:30 am to 4pm. You will be served a half chicken, potato salad, baked beans, a roll, a cookie, and a bottle of water. The cost is $15 cash or credit card. You'll know you are there when you see the smoke rising from the barbecue pit.