COTTONWOOD?- People are coming from miles around for a taste of Chester's Chicken at the Cottonwood Co-op Convenience Store.
Some came months before it was available.
"I don't know how they knew, but truckers found out that we were going to have Chester's Chicken and asked us, 'where's that Chester's Chicken?'" Sandy Kolhei, the manager of the convenience store and deli, said.
Photo by Karin Elton
Cottonwood Co-op employee Cathy Loken serves up some chicken to a customer. The chicken is a new offering at the expanded deli in Cottonwood.
The menu has recently expanded to include the nationally known Chester's Chicken line of food, but the physical expansion of the store started more than a year ago.
"Over a year ago, we moved the offices to the Agronomy Center," Kolhei said.
Kolhei moved into the office that the general manager had, the kitchen expanded into where other offices were and Kolhei's former office was made into a seating area.
Along with the addition of the expanded kitchen, menu and seating area, the number of employees expanded. Kolhei added eight to the roster for a total of 20 employees working at the gas station and deli and is looking to hire more.
"We are always taking applications," she said.
The kitchen is open during the regular store hours - 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Breakfast include coffee, rolls, doughnuts - "we have our own bakery," Kolhei said - and breakfast burritos and pizza.
Chester's Chicken - a recent offering that coincided with the expansion - is brought out at 11 a.m. Kolhei said her customer base indicated it wanted something more in addition to sandwiches and pizza, so she decided to offer chicken. Kolhei wanted a product line similar to what she offers with Hot Stuff Foods, where there are certain procedures that have to be followed in order to have a consistent result. After doing some research she chose Chester's Chicken.
"It's a good product," she said. "It's well-known nationally, so we went with that."
Kolhei said the chicken and other products such as pizza can only be in the warming display case a certain amount of time.
"It doesn't sit all day long," she said. "If it's still there after a certain time, we discard it."
Kolhei said she is open to suggestions of what people want to buy.
"People asked for gizzards, so we have that," she said.
Kolhei said the expansion has been successful and she has seen an increase in business.
"People are pretty happy," she said.