Chicken Lou’s has always been attracting crowd from Northeastern University since ages, owing to its proximity. The students, the staff as well as the faculty assemble in an obedient line, placing their orders without chaos and in a commendable discipline.
Dave Ferretti can be recognised by his friendly “Has everybody ordered yet?”, as he sees the workings of his restaurant started by his father in the early ’90s. Ferretti then issues the orders to his daughter and her boyfriend, who then begin assembling it precisely the way the customers want it. Ferretti also knows how tedious it can be to wait for your order. So, he converses with the customers, hoping to distract them from the wait. Chicken Lou’s always sees the familiar faces crowding away at their place, thanks to their powerful and satisfying menu. Poultry, meats, cheese, seafood, potatoes, eggs as well as grease trickle down in elegant presentations from the back kitchen to the tables.
“I’ve been coming here for 25 years, two times a week,” says Bill Mayer. He is a political science professor at Northeastern. In this dog-eat-dog world of fast-food, Mayer thinks Chicken Lou’s is unique. “It always strikes me as better made, with fresher ingredients,” says Mayer.
Dave has a degree in electrical engineering from Northeastern in the year 1982. He had always dreamed of working for NASA. However, with some problems standing in the way, he became a defense contractor for the next 13 years. Ultimately, he gave up his career to let his father relax from the work so that Lou Ferretti could go to Florida. He came back, just two months later, and spent the last few years of his life helping Ferretti with the management, dying in 2000. “I lost my best friend,” says Ferretti.
Their day starts with leaving from Merrimack, New Hampshire, to open Chicken Lou’s at 6:45 AM. Ferretti takes the morning shift till 2 PM while his daughter, Gerry, heads the evening shift. Amberle and her boyfriend Sherwood “DJ” Avery, take over the kitchen section. “It is nice to be surrounded by family, and it’s nice to keep the business going,” admits Amberle. “Everything is made with love.”
They serve approximately 400-500 people daily. “The secret is working with people who know what is happening exactly,” says Ferretti. “That’s why it’s a lot easier to have family, as opposed to people coming and going. We don’t have any ordering system, and it works because these guys remember.”
Ferretti fondly tells about his favorite sandwiches being the Hectic Lou and the Southwestern TKO. “But I’m 59 years old,” he laughs. “I don’t eat a lot here anymore. I’d be fat as a house if I did.”