Pittsburgh Dining » On The Side

Quik It Chicken has an unlikely home in a North Side gas station

But the homemade soul-food fare is worth a stop

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Don't pass by Quik It Chicken too rapidly. This North Side eatery, which incongruously shares a building with a Valero gas station/convenience store and a wig-and-beauty shop, might look unimpressive. But inside there's good food and a good story, too.

Owner Eugene Thomas, a Manchester native, launched Quik It as a Federal Street storefront in the 1980s. Forced out by redevelopment, in 1996 he built his current headquarters, and until recently ran the gas station himself. (The wig store came later.) In the early 2000s, he ran seven Quik It outlets, as distant as Zelienople and Penn Hills — and as near as PNC Park's Chicken on the Hill stall.

Thomas says he lost the PNC contract two years ago. Meanwhile, financial troubles forced him to scale back to one location, though he's looking to expand again.

For now, the cheerful fellow with long braids serves his homemade soul-food fare 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. seven days a week, with eat-in options. (He caters, too.) The fried chicken is lightly breaded, firm and juicy, and a three-piece serving ($4.69) and a side of spicy collard greens ($2.39) makes a nice lunch. Thomas' newly revamped menu adds chicken strips, fish sandwiches and salads to his smoked ribs and sides like mac-and-cheese, potato salad, coleslaw, and red beans and rice.

Blink and you might miss Quik It Chicken. But try not to.

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