Hays Landmark Reopened

Al’s Chickenette has reopened under new management. Last weekend, the restaurant had a “soft opening” to stress test the staff and work out any necessary kinks.  The restaurant, which has been a staple of Hays since 1949, closed last spring.

Caroline von Lintel, co-owner of Al’s with Gary Reiman (who owns multiple Wendy’s restaurants), told Hays Post the goal was not to simply reopen the restaurant, but to also to get people to fall back in love with it.  While Reiman’s expertise is the kitchen and the food quality, von Lintel said her background in interior design (as well as her family’s artistic vision) was applied to the layout of the restaurant.

Her son designed the new logo, and her daughter hand-crafted the many sculptures and mason jar lighting fixtures seen along the walls.  One notable piece she created is the large fabricated chicken on the south side of the store, which von Lintel explained was recycled from family parts.

“She left and went down to her grandpa’s ranch in Russell Springs and when she came back she’d taken the windmill that had fallen down and made the feathers. She was contemplating what she was going to do for the eye, and her dad and grandma brought her these really old cast-iron skillets.  So the eye is made out of cast-iron skillets, and the pupil of the eye is the turn signal from a vintage Indian motorcycle.”

Some of the changes the owners have made to the restaurant include:

  • All food is prepared daily and fresh, not frozen or from a can
  • Updated HVAC system
  • Adding a bakery inside the store
  • Update to the original recipe (no longer fried in 100% lard)
  • Use of 4 pound birds (to avoid small pieces and disappointed guests)
  • All food brought in from in-state sources/farms when possible (including corn, beans and chicken)
  • All staff work together instead of having designated jobs
  • Wait staff working as a team to deliver food to all tables, not just their sections
  • Many aesthetic changes

von Lintel added that regardless of how people remember it, there’s enough of the old Al’s along with some modernization that everyone will be able to enjoy the restaurant.

“I want everyone to come out, I want them to fall back in love with Al’s again. It’s a feel-good place.  It’s here, it’s back. Everyone thought we were going to lose it, but we’re resurrecting it and bringing it back.  I think we’re doing as good, if not a better job than what was done in the past.  We’re going to put our best foot forward.  It’s not ours, it’s everybody’s Al’s.”

  • O’Neill Clan

    Good luck.

  • Amy

    We ate here on Monday and it was EXCELLENT. Better than it has been in years and very clean.

  • just sayin

    The heck with calories and cholesterol. Al’s is back. as long as they stick with the original recipe they’ll have no problem. Let’s rock n roll !!

  • old fan

    nice to see the chickenette open again but if ya ain’t cooking with lard, it just isn’t the chickenette

    • other shoe

      You mean if you don’t see grease on the walls and the cockroach preliminary heats it isn’t Al’s

    • just saying

      i agree. i always thought the original recipe included good ol’ fashioned lard?? good to eat but hard on the arteries.

    • Caroline von Lintel

      Hi there …we are cooking with lard…just not 100% lard it’s a trans/lard….it’s yummy

  • Chicken Fried Batter

    I hope they turn it around. The last time I ate there the chicken fried stake was paper thin and so salty it was not edible. I’ll give it another go…for old times sake.

  • countryboy

    I went to Al’s the other day and I was not very happy to be honest. I ordered a Chicken Fry and fries. Neither were the same as how the Schmidt’s cooked the food. I did not get a huge pile of fries nor did I get a big Chicken Fry like it used to be. Also the chicken fry and the fries were not the same taste. I suggest that they fry the chicken in 100% lard. That would bring back the good traditional taste. Most people including me do not like nor want this new taste of Al’s. We want the really good food like it was with the Schmidt’s. The main reason why I’m just kinda mad is because they said it was going to be the original recepies and they are not.
    So I hope that the owners read my comment and try to consider my suggestions.
    Because if they don’t I have a feeling they are just going to close up like St. Peter did which there were more reasons why it closed Al’s.

  • Luv2cook to

    Been there twice and it was excellent, chicken was huge and crispy, fries were awesome and the salad dressing was just right. The menu size is exactly as it was in the 70’s with only a couple additions and that’s how it should be. It’s a chicken house not a restaurant that serves hamburgers, corn dogs, breakfast and whatever else. The new owners are doing a great job, keep it up!