By Mitch Broder
I believe that Paul gave me his candy fries to shut me up.
If nothing else, the guy knows how to work his crowd.
But he does know something else: He knows how to perk up a finger. This explains why he has opened a place called Sticky’s Finger Joint.
|These are my fingers. Above, the guy standing up is Paul.|
Paul is just a guy who can’t sit still, at least not while he’s trying to get his fingers in your face. So he made me a tantalizing lunch, sat with me briefly, gave me a fist knock, and disappeared into the kitchen, secure that his chicken would speak for itself.
It was eloquent. I had The Wasabi Finger, crunchy with zesty panko. It made me weep, though that was because I can’t tolerate wasabi. I had The Southern Finger, crunchy with fried-chicken batter. It had a buttermilk-ranch dressing described as “secret,” which I know means “healthful.” I had The Lemon Lime Candied Rind Finger, which was grilled and thus not crunchy, but candied enough so that I didn’t notice.
It was an unlikely meal, yet not as unlikely as it might have been. For one thing, I didn’t try the chocolate-chip barbecue sauce. And alternate fingers include The Pecoconut, The General Sticky Tso, The Salted Caramel Finger, The Pepperjack Flauta Finger, and The Buffalo Balsamic Maple Finger.
You get three of most fingers for $9, and three make a meal, particularly when you add a side order and a drink for $5. Other side orders include the Green Bean Fries and the Idaho Truffle Fries, which are “Glitterbanged With Lemon Pepper Glitter.” Sticky’s introduced me to glitterbanging.
Paul was undoubtedly up to his hips in glitter, but he gave me the Sticky’s Finger Joint backstory thumbnail. He calls himself a “serial entrepreneur.” His last hit was a tech start-up in China. “Things weren’t working out so well, so I turned to my love of food,” he said. “I looked at the market and saw that there really wasn’t an option for fast-casual chicken.”
You could argue that point, especially since there’s already a finger chain called Raising Cane’s. But it’s not in New York, and it wouldn’t recognize glitter if it got banged with it. Paul teamed up with Jonathan Sherman, whose father had worked for the Bojangles’ chicken chain, to build what he hopes will be a chicken chain for the cheeky.
Bojangles, of course, was a dancer. Sticky is a robot. The other thing Paul has a love of, besides food, is robots. So Sticky became the symbol of Sticky’s, and robot retro rules. On the counter is a red Panasonic TV that broadcasts snow.
Sticky’s isn’t exactly a comfy place. It’s set up mostly for take-out, its few seats are metal, and its few tables are down at your knees. But people still party there, because furniture doesn’t matter when you’re with friends and you’ve got the latest food. And half of it tastes like dessert.Get stuck on Sticky’s Finger Joint, 31 West Eighth Street, at MacDougal Street, in New York City.