February 4th, 2014
09:27 AM ET
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Brian Maloof knows it sounds crazy. Why would a small business build a chicken coop on its roof?

Maloof’s father, Manuel Maloof, opened his namesake watering hole in 1956. Manuel’s Tavern has been an Atlanta institution for decades, a place where journalists and cops rub elbows with legislators, carpenters and college students as they belly up to the wooden bar. The same portrait of JFK has hung over the bar since the days when “unaccompanied women” were not welcome. It's surrounded by pennants of Atlanta sports franchises, past and present

But things haven’t been easy lately. So Maloof “put it out there in prayer” and waited.

“I just said, ‘Father, I don’t know what it is that you want me to do, but it sure has been tough. I need some help here,’” said Maloof, who left his paramedic job in 2001 to work at Manuel’s.

The response he got back was "chickens.”

That was in April. By Thanksgiving, Maloof had raised 24 egg-laying chickens and built a 550 square-foot permanent residence for them on the roof of Manuel’s. Each day, Maloof (or one of his employees) ascends a ladder from his private office to collect eggs from the coop, which is painted in a shade of green from Lowe’s stock of botched mixed paints. The gaggle of speckled Sussex and Australian Australorp chickens erupts in excitement as Maloof approaches the fenced-in porch made almost entirely of repurposed material where they eat organic feed from used salad dressing vats and nest in old pickle buckets.

Even if it sounds crazy, people seem excited. A Facebook post announcing the chickens’ arrival earned more than 1,000 likes, 280 shares and accolades ranging from “ambitious and innovative” to “exceptional and extraordinary.”

Maloof’s late father, “a dear man, would love this,” one commenter said.

In an industry where 10 years can make an establishment “old,” mainstays such as Manuel’s are grappling with the tension between staying the same and maintaining relevancy for current and future generations.

With few notable exceptions, there’s no single dish or cocktail that preserves a restaurant’s legacy, said Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the James Beard Foundation. "Legacy is based on those intangible elements that root an establishment in the community, bringing people along for the ride.

“You have to hang onto some things and let go of others,” Davis said. “It’s different in each community, but there’s definitely a need to realize the world changes really quickly, and what’s going to keep you there is something remarkable, a special formula that balances the old and the new.”

Manuel’s has never been a destination for fancy food or drinks, though subtle changes have taken effect since the days when beer and hot dogs were the only options. Much of it has occurred under Brian Maloof, who brought in Angus beef and craft beers. He also got rid of Styrofoam takeout containers and installed solar panels and electric car chargers in an attempt to be forward-thinking in “trying to do the next right thing.”

Along with the chickens, 2014 ushered in perhaps the biggest shift to date at Manuel’s: a smoke-free environment. For years, Maloof resisted it because he thought it was the right thing. Plus, until recently, most of Manuel’s customers smoked, and Maloof didn’t want to alienate loyal customers, whom he regards as friends.

“Nothing at Manuel’s changes quickly, and it’s been designed that way. We don’t shoot for trends or just sit back and wait to see if it has validity. We run it by customers first,” he said. “We’re changing these things that a lot of old-timers thought we’d never do, but we did it and maintained integrity and culture.”

In many cases, including Manuel’s, the focus on farm-to-table is a return to how restaurants did business only a generation ago or so. Most of the vegetables served in Nashville’s Capitol Grille are grown about five miles from the iconic Hermitage Hotel, which has been the restaurant’s home since 1910.

Five years ago, Chef Tyler Brown set out to create a vegetable garden so he could invite school and community groups to learn about where their food comes from. The Hermitage Hotel had just begun adding a $2 donation to guest bills to benefit the Land Trust of Tennessee when Brown asked if he could use fallow land under the trust’s control, about five miles from the hotel.

It took some time and tilling to get into a groove, but now the garden at Glen Leven provides most of the vegetables prepared at the Capitol Grille. Its success led Brown to branch out to cattle farming on 250 acres of property about an hour west of Nashville, which provides beef for the restaurant.

“We just want to be a part of the community in a different manner that makes a long-term difference,” he said, “This is not just a flash in the pan, a trend for us. This is something we’re committed to doing, and we’re doing it well.”

The experience opened Brown’s eyes to the amount of work involved in creating a single dish a lesson to which Maloof can relate.

Maloof raised the chickens in his home for the first few months, “busting his butt” to protect them from weather, hawks and foxes. When that first egg was finally laid, it was an epiphany, he said.

“I thought I had an understanding and a respect for food, and I didn’t. I’ve been taking it for granted all along, and I didn’t realize it until I got that egg,” he said.

He realized he had a phone full of resources for every situation imaginable at the tavern. He knew his accountant, the guy who picked up his trash, the guys from Jack Daniel's and Sweetwater Brewery.

“You know what I don’t have on my phone? I don’t have a farmer,” he said. “I have a food business, and I don’t know the name of one farmer. That really bothered me.”

The chickens pay their way with a weekly haul that provides enough eggs for a limited Sunday brunch run. And, it turns out people are willing to shell out an extra $4 for a salmon benedict or BLT made from the special eggs, Maloof said. Each week, Manuel’s sells out of the eggs.

It’ll take some time to become a moneymaking venture though. In the meantime, Maloof is content with the excitement the chickens have generated among the public and the staff. Morale has not been this high in a long time, he said.

Besides, he realizes now that if he can’t be the cheapest restaurant in town, he needs to do something to stand out from the other bars and restaurants.

“We needed something to boost morale and excite the customer base, and this was me trying to think outside the box,” he said. “All these places that are doing farm-to-table, I understand it now. I didn’t understand the additional expense of organics. I understand it now.

“It’s made me a better restaurant owner.”

Previously:
A restaurant to fuel Rust Belt renewal
FAQ about the backyard chicken boom
Change: It's not all on chefs' plates
The feather in the cap of the Austin food scene



soundoff (145 Responses)
  1. Dennis

    Every hobbiest with backyard chickens knows their eggs are expensive.

    But hobbies are like that.

    February 5, 2014 at 10:09 am | Reply
  2. Ann

    This is really making me think about getting a couple of chickens ... I don't eat too many eggs, but my neighbor is a baker. I bet we could work something out!

    February 5, 2014 at 9:18 am | Reply
  3. shawn l

    I have hens. No way a couple extra eggs is worth extra dollars. Chickens require little effort, will lay 1-2 eggs a day for about 9 months out of 12 (THey don't lay during cold months) and only cost the price of feed, which would be about 30-40 bucks for 50 hens.

    The price of the eggs would be cheaper than the ones they actually pay for, so why would it increase the price of the dish.

    February 5, 2014 at 5:55 am | Reply
    • No Fixin' Stupid

      But ""artisanal" eggs add the pixie-dust of authenticity that spoiled urban children need to validate their lives.

      He could charge these fools $10 more and serve them on a bed of chicken manure and they'd be lining up to demand a table.

      February 5, 2014 at 7:08 am | Reply
      • Jerv

        No fixin' your foul attitude and utterly useless comments.

        February 5, 2014 at 7:49 am | Reply
      • Jerv

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        No fixin' your foul atti tude and utterly useless comments.

        February 5, 2014 at 7:49 am | Reply

        February 5, 2014 at 8:00 am | Reply
        • AleeD® @ Jerv

          Utterly?! I thought we were talking about chickens. ;)

          February 5, 2014 at 8:09 am |
    • Dennis

      Chickens don't lay two eggs a day.

      February 5, 2014 at 10:10 am | Reply
    • Cmacan

      For a Chicken "expert" or even just a chicken owner you don't seem to know much about your birds.
      1) Chickens don't lay 2 eggs a day, most don't even lay 1 a day (most lay 3-6 per week)
      2) Hens will lay year round if you simple add a light to your coop to "extend the day". (it's not the cold it's shorter day)
      3) You and I must have different ideas of work... cause the constant cycle of feeding, cleaning and caring for them seems like a fair amount of work.
      4) My 9 birds eat a $20 bag of feed every 3-4 weeks or so, in that time I get about 10-12 dozen eggs, so yeah the running cost is about the same as buying store bought eggs. (but with a lot more labor) and the the occasional cost of coop mainenence, bedding materials, chicken meds and vet bills.

      February 5, 2014 at 10:33 am | Reply
  4. SixDegrees

    Nothing like having the gentle, soothing smell of hundreds of pounds of chicken waste wafting over your breakfast table.

    February 5, 2014 at 4:22 am | Reply
  5. amanandhishoe

    The one thing missing is some earth and grass. Chickens love scratching through the earth in search of earthworms and bugs. Looking at the size of the roof, it seems like it would be possible to provide a fairly extensive grassy area for the hens. amanandhishoe.com

    February 4, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Reply
    • No Fixin' Stupid

      Chickens have tiny brains and don't "love" anything.

      Though I have to say they're smarter than someone who wants to load a flat roof with many tons of dirt and grass.

      February 5, 2014 at 7:10 am | Reply
  6. jackie

    How is there not a zoning issue with this? I grew up with chickens and while I commend the local foods movement, I can even wrap my mind around how those rooftop chickens despite their lack of grass and space still have a much better life than those at egg farms, I would still wonder how sanitary the conditions are. Livestock and birds carry disease that's just a fact.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:44 pm | Reply
    • Sara

      Thank goodness humans don't carry disease, since the zoning laws allow them to be near me.

      February 4, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • Fiona

      I agree that a rooftop is no place for keeping animals. Too much wind, too much heat, too extreme an environment.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:20 pm | Reply
    • Brian Maloof

      Jackie,
      I am the Brian in the story. I want to refer you and anyone else with concerns to the original FB post announcing the chickens for more clarity. The CNN story has a link to the original post.

      The hen house has been inspected by officials at the county health dept. Myself and another employee are certified by the Ga. Dept of agriculture to produce and grade eggs. We have an established manure plan and manure is cleaned every day. (it is collected and given to gardeners in recycled pickle buckets) Each egg is graded, cleaned and stored properly. The eggs from the roof are few in number, stored separately, brown and are only 10% of all the eggs we use per week. Rotation, freshness, safe handling and storage are a top priority.

      They hens have 550 square feet of space shaded protected from weather and predators to live in. They have a natural floor to scratch in. The actual hen house is a heated and cooled space that is insulated. The health, safety and happiness of the hens is my priority. They receive daily organic spring mix along with worms or crickets several times a week. All of the food is organic. I bring 2 different chickens home with me weekly rotating them so they can free range in my yard.

      There seems to be some confusion going on about the egg price. We cook all our eggs to order. Customers have an available organic up charge. Our standard 3 egg omelet has an up charge of $4.00, a single egg it is $1.50.

      It is my hope that I have addressed any concern you may have. Please follow up with the FB post and know that I do appreciate your concern along with what others have posted.

      Brian

      February 4, 2014 at 10:29 pm | Reply
      • egrinberg

        Thanks for weighing in, Brian!

        February 5, 2014 at 9:24 am | Reply
      • Dennis

        THX.

        February 5, 2014 at 10:12 am | Reply
        • Thomas

          Dolby

          February 6, 2014 at 6:54 am |
      • NoToOrganics

        Organic Schmorganic. Ditch the BS. Nothing more than an uninformed fad!

        February 5, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Reply
      • NoToOrganics

        Same goes for eggs and meat as in this story...

        http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2014/01/organic_vs_conventional_produce_for_kids_you_don_t_need_to_fear_pesticides.html

        February 5, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Reply
      • Thinking things through

        Thanks, Brian. I'm glad to hear they get some good quality time in a yard.

        February 6, 2014 at 11:14 am | Reply
  7. DaddyPD

    My daughter and her husband raise chickens and I would love to only pay $4 a dozen for eggs. I get special Daddy pricing and have paid as much as $1,000 for a dozen eggs when the kids really needed the extra cash. It getting difficult to afford some of those Sunday morning omlets.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:40 pm | Reply
    • egrinberg

      Actually, it's for $4 extra for a plate of eggs served at the restaurant. Know what I mean?

      February 4, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Reply
    • Ricardo

      1K for a dozen eggs? You're a freak.

      February 4, 2014 at 6:15 pm | Reply
      • Foodpimp

        You totally didn't get what he did there.

        February 4, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Reply
  8. Ryan Texan

    The problem is the same one as craft beers – blind taste tastes don't show they are preferred.
    I'd love to see a double blind test on these eggs, but I doubt they would want to participate in that.
    They know that there's a good chance people might prefer regular eggs.
    Same goes for craft beers. Take away the labels, and we get the truth.
    People are influenced more by what they think about food than they normally are willing to accept.
    (It's also why many "delicacies" don't taste so great to those who have no psychological attachment to the foods.)
    Certain home grown foods are better tasting, principally because they are allowed to ripen longer before picking. You pick a tomato from your garden when green, and it's going to taste just like the store ones.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Reply
    • bill

      I agree with the eggs, and maybe some other food items, but you are dead wrong on the beer. If you are drinking BudMillerCoors and you compare to a breweries attempt at the lightest beer possible, them maybe. I dare you to taste a mass produced "high end" beer and compare it to a well brewed, possibly barrel aged example from a skilled brewer and not choose the craft example.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:44 pm | Reply
    • Fiona

      You are just wrong. There is a huge difference in taste between freshly laid eggs from chickens that are fed a good diet, and mass-market eggs so.d in supermarkets (which can be months old). They even smell different.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:22 pm | Reply
    • Jeremy

      What is your deffinition of a craft beer? Lone Star?

      February 5, 2014 at 12:24 am | Reply
      • No Fixin' Stupid

        Probably Miler Lite in the "retro" can.

        February 5, 2014 at 7:13 am | Reply
    • Thinking things through

      I can definitly tell the taste difference between supermarket eggs and healthy pastured eggs. The healthy ones are just so much richer!

      As for beer... if you can't tell the difference, stick to Pabst.

      February 6, 2014 at 11:25 am | Reply
  9. Donna T

    Wow where we live you get them for $2 to $3 per dozen, Happy moment right there. I love that the restaurants are forward thinking. I also totally agree with Matt. Those chickens are appreciated for the bounty they lay on our table. If it tastes like chicken just give me chicken, I always say.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  10. gstlab3

    you have to pay for your clean drinkable water why not pay for quality and safe food at higher and higher prices?
    thanks to big farms and chemical company profits taking their toll on our soil and water you should not be surprised at the sickness and disease or the garbage most places use for drinking water.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Reply
    • No Fixin' Stupid

      When was the last time anyone died of cholera from drinking that "garbage" water you're whining about?

      Another spoiled urban child, the beneficiary of generations of science and technology, whining because her life has been "denied" the "authenticity" of disease, backbreaking labor and poverty.

      February 5, 2014 at 7:15 am | Reply
  11. Rev.Christie Bliss Ley

    I raise hens for eggs on a small scale with nine hens. To charge $4.00 seems a bit steep. I would pay an extra buck or two, but no more.

    February 4, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Reply
    • Jim from WI

      I agree, $4 a serving is too steep.During the summer months when the farmers markets are open, I try to buy the free range eggs for about $4.50 a dozen. Compared to regular $1 a dozen eggs, it sounds steep. The flavor is so much better than those that it's worth paying the premium; especially since I get 6 breakfasts out of that dozen eggs. Also, I tend to buy the pricier natural eggs from the store the rest of the year, so we're only talking a buck or two difference to have the fresh from the farm variety.

      February 4, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  12. Chas

    How does he clean their pen? Oh? You need to clean the pen?

    February 4, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • luke5fishing

      no self-cleaning appliance can go unchecked? I raise meat chickens (seven weeks of glorious feeding night and day then off to the butcher). Maybe eggs later. meanwhile at the .net we feed ourselves on the food we hunt and gather.

      February 4, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • macs

      That's the beauty of free ranging birds. They spend most of their time in the sun and fresh air eating lots of grass, ect. chlorophyll reduces parasites in the chickens naturally. The coop needs basic cleaning but no sterilization. How many people grew up on family farms in the past, eating homegrown eggs and ever got sick from one of their own eggs? I've been raising hens for eggs for many years and have never got sick or heard of anyone else getting sick from them.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Reply
      • Fiona

        The chickens kept by this restaurant owner live on the roof. No "free range" up there.

        February 4, 2014 at 9:24 pm | Reply
        • macs

          Yes, I know, but you get my drift right? In the winter when the grass is dormant, I sprout wheat and Barley grass in 3 foot trays for my chickens. About 15 pounds of grass per tray. So yeah, even on a rooftop it is possible to feed them grass if you put your mind to it. The bottom line is...the birds raised more naturally will produce healthier food for us.
          Regardless of technological advances, we are still natural beings in a natural world. Natural food is what our digestive system is designed for. That has not changed one bit since man has existed on Earth.
          The more we move away from natural food, the more health problems we have.

          February 5, 2014 at 11:37 am |
  13. Laurie

    I love this. I wish you very well in this endeavor and your business. This is the humane way to raise chickens!!

    February 4, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  14. Nikolas

    Another Backyard Chicken Gardener here!

    We currently have 6 hens at our home in SoCal. Boy, what a difference with these eggs compared to store bought (regardless if the store-bought say Free Range or Organic, etc.) The nitrogren-rich fertilizer the gals provide for my compost bin and veggie garden boosts output, with no need to purchase fertilizer from the store.

    I think it's safe to say that my family will own chickens for the rest of our lives. Looking forward to being able to move to a new home with more land/space, and eventually have 15-20 hens, and a dozen or so meat birds too! :-)

    February 4, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  15. Whatthe*

    And this has National interest why? The most boring article I've ever read.

    February 4, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Reply
    • luke5fishing

      ...he says as we drive to the restaurant to be fed or (not) to be fed. THAT is the question?

      February 4, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  16. Sarah

    I might spring for the fresh eggs at least once to see if there's really any difference.

    February 4, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Reply
    • Nikolas

      Before doing that, look for fresh eggs at a local farmers market. The vendors at our farmers market typicall sell a dozen eggs for about $7... Problem is, once you have them, you aren't going to want to go back to store-bought eggs. :-)

      February 4, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Reply
    • macs

      Yes, please do. They really are better than store bought. Healthier too. You should be able to find them cheaper than $7 doz. I sell mine for only $2 doz. Maybe it's time for a price correction....

      February 4, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Reply
      • Ann

        You should definitely charge more than that. I'd be thrilled to find them for $3 ... still a great price for me, and a 50% increase for you!

        February 5, 2014 at 9:07 am | Reply
        • macs

          Yes you are right, but I started doing it mainly for my own use and eventually people I knew started asking me if I would sell them some eggs. I just didn't have the heart to charge them more. Later the word spread and I became known as the egg guy. So I guess it became more of a labor of love because I never made any money at it, but at least I was supplying good food to good people.

          February 5, 2014 at 11:46 am |
  17. bocajim

    The lager hatcheries use grinders to kill there male chicks in mass grinders. It nice to see small scale egg production make a comeback.

    February 4, 2014 at 3:02 pm | Reply
    • Fiona

      Ever thought where these small-production hens come from? They were hatched out like any other chicken, and the males were culled, for the most part (few people want roosters). Most people who want to get into the chicken trend purchase their chicks from the feed-and-seed store. But even the home-breeder of chickens - who will assure you her heritage-breed chicks were produced humanely - ends up with extra males. Unless you want to raise them for capon, or need a rooster for your hens, the males are detritus.

      February 4, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Reply
      • Larry

        Just wondering if "detritus" might also refer to human males in the distant future.

        February 4, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Reply
        • Paulii

          In Whatthe*'s case it already has.

          February 4, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
  18. MB

    We've been raising chickens and collecting eggs in suburban Tucson for a couple years now. It's been such a great experience for our whole family. Even the dog enjoys herding them around the yard. We have 8 hens and get more eggs than we can eat. Our neighbors regularly come knocking to buy a dozen eggs knowing that we feed them lots of vegetables and they are free range.
    I would gladly pay extra for a breakfast with eggs from happy chickens.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  19. Todd

    Being that most restaurant food is marked up, paying $4.00 more for an expensive meal may not be that big of a deal. The real issue is if it is worth it or not. How much better are these eggs. Just a little better, perhaps not, night and day, perhaps so.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Reply
    • Capt Gravy

      I have free range chickens at my home and I can honestly say that their eggs are night and day above anything you're going to get at a grocery store or restaurant..even better, by a lot, than the "cage free" or "organic" eggs that they sell. Plus, they eat all of the bugs...especially the ticks....haven't seen a tick on me, my family or any of our household pets since about 2-3 weeks after we got the birds....not that that matters in terms of the story, but it's a nice side benefit. But $4 extra for a meal....it better be a damn good meal..

      February 4, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Reply
    • Andrew

      Depends on the person just like everything else. My grandma was a farmer, I ate fresh eggs my whole life and didn't notice much of a difference. It's like wine, some people say they can taste all these little suttle flavors, other people taste wine.

      February 4, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Reply
      • No Fixin' Stupid

        The snobs, be they wine-snobs or egg-snobs, are distinguished by two things. An excess of money and a comfortable distance from the actual production of the product they claim to know.

        February 5, 2014 at 7:20 am | Reply
      • macs

        I grew up eating store bought eggs most of my life but when I tried home grown eggs, I could see and taste the difference. I am no snob either. What you feed your birds will affect the appearance and taste of the eggs.

        February 5, 2014 at 11:54 am | Reply
  20. Noah Zemke

    We currently own 4 chickens and it costs me $25 a month in feed for 4 eggs a day. And I get all the fertilizer I can possible want for gardening.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  21. swansonite

    I thought it was $4 more for a dozen, which I would go for. $4 more for a single meal no way. I dont like eggs that much and when I eat out I do it fiscally since everything is already highly overpriced.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  22. Dave

    What's next, a $10 cup of milk?

    February 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Reply
    • Barbara

      which I would gladly pay if it was still warm from the cow. I had milk once that was not altered in any way and wow!

      February 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Reply
      • No Fixin' Stupid

        Another overpaid urban fool outs herself.

        February 5, 2014 at 7:21 am | Reply
  23. Walker

    It's obvious that Brian Maloof keeps a clean coop and cares very much for his chickens. Chicken smells only happen when the coop is not cleaned out regularly. I have had free range chickens for over 5 years and there's nothing better than fresh eggs. They have reached the age where they don't lay much but they will live out their days at home. They provided me with eggs for many years, it's the least I can do.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  24. LisaFromPasadena

    If I ever get to Atlanta, I will happily eat here. I am not much of a drinker, but I like a craft beer now and then, and eggs raised on the roof? I love the idea! Eggs from chickens that get to eat real food and move around just taste better, even in a Benedict or in a cake. You really can taste the diff.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm | Reply
  25. Moonshine

    I would definitely pay more and do for farm fresh eggs. It's more about the treatment of the chickens then the eggs themselves. Factory animals raised for mass production are treated horribly and live in terrible conditions. I'll never buy a "factory" egg again.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  26. Tom

    In the future, he can ask his customer how much they'd pay to be free of the chicken coop smell permeating the place.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Reply
    • egrinberg

      Hi there! Have you visited Manuel's recently? Have you noticed a smell?

      February 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Reply
      • Whos that, its Pat

        Why yes I did, but it wasn't coming from the chickens...

        February 4, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Reply
    • macs

      If he is doing things right, there will be no smell. Just like hogs, everyone thinks they stink but that is man's fault. Even people would stink if they were raised in the same cramped conditions. I raise hogs and they don't have the typical hog farm "aroma" people imagine when they think of hogs. If fact, I had a pig once that smelled just like maple syrup. No kidding. Of course we named her...Maple.

      February 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  27. woody

    I can not believe how many people have no idea about the simple basics of raising some chickens, or even what is called farm animal. It really is sad. I grew up in the days that we (family) raised out own veggies in our own garden, raised our own meat, ( yes we named them to while they was growing) even butchered our own chickens. I am so glad so have these life lessons, cause one day when the food get so expensive that you can not pay the price in the store i will still be OK cause i can raise my own, and process it.
    All of these crazy comments about abuse, sickness, old eggs etc. way off base, just confirms my opinion that most of the people making these post have no knowledge. FYI I can still buy local fresh eggs for $1.50 where i live, and they do taste better and look better the yoke is really a dark orange/yellow, not the bleached out bright yellow you see now days from chicken mills and processing practices.

    February 4, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • chrisrapier

      I'm sincerely happy that you had these experiences. It sounds like it was very important to you. Of course, it's probably worth keeping in mind that a large number of people simple don't have access to the required land, initial outlay of capital, or the time to do what you experienced.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Reply
  28. Fiona

    Paying a premium for an on-site-hatched egg makes sense only if that egg is served to you whole (unscrambled) and minimally adorned. I would be really skeptical about a "Benedict" preparation that supposedly contained a premium egg. It's just too easy to disguise a mass-production egg and call it home hatched. A just-hatched egg has a better texture, fresher taste and different color yolk than a weeks-old supermarket egg. I will pay extra at the farmer's market for local eggs because I care about the conditions the chickens are raised in. But hugely do taste better.

    Any scrambled egg or omelet served in a restaurant is made with a huge batch of eggs all mixed together, and is not going to feature premium eggs.

    February 4, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • Fiona

      Auto-complete fail: that should read "But they do taste better."

      February 4, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Reply
    • Furball

      Well barring fraud (which if caught can ruin a persons business), what is the benefit from locally grown to mass grown? Is there scientific evidence showing one is better then the other?
      Also, you say it tastes better. Have you done a blind taste test?
      Nutritionally speaking, even from the FDA, there is no difference between organic eggs and the regular stuff

      February 4, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Reply
      • Fiona

        The taste difference so like night and day. And the smell is even different. Old eggs - and by that I mean supermarket eggs that can be many weeks old - have an unpleasant smell. I will use the supermarket ones in baking, but I won't eat them by themselves.

        In fact, I was off eggs for a long time because I had begun to find them repulsive. I thought this was because I am vegetarian, and the eggs were tasting "meaty" to me. But then a friend gave me some just-hatched eggs, and I felt it would be impolite not to serve them. I found them to be delicious. I am no longer off eggs. They are an excellent source of protein, they are naturally portioned, and they are inexpensive even at the premium prices of the farmer's market.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Reply
        • Fiona

          Eek, I see that I typed just-hatched instead of just-laid! I am not eating chicks, I assure you.

          February 4, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
        • Couldn't Just Leave It

          I know what you mean. There's nothing like that just-laid feeling ... I mean taste.

          February 5, 2014 at 7:29 am |
      • chrisrapier

        The difference isn't in organic or conventional eggs. What makes a big difference in the eggs is first: how old the egg is. There is a huge difference between an egg gathered that day versus one that is several days to weeks old. Second is the feed. Certain types of feeds create a much more flavorful yolk. I know this may sound icky but even just adding a handful of meal worms or other insects to the grain feed can make a noticeable difference.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Reply
      • Ami

        Small chart on page 253 of Joel Salatin's book "Folks, This Ain't Normal." Lab results comparing the nutritional profiles of the USDA standard (eggs from factory farms) and eggs from chickens that are allowed to be chickens. Yes, the results are incredibly different...the standard factory eggs have more cholesterol, more saturated fat, and less vitamins and Omega-3's. Then, of course, there's the taste....

        February 4, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Reply
      • macs

        They really are better. Try it yourself. Believing what the FDA says, is like believing Monsanto when they said that DDT and Roundup were relatively safe for the environment.

        February 4, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  29. bibleverse1

    The cost is bit more than I would pay but they do look good.

    February 4, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Reply
    • egrinberg

      Thanks for reading! Worth mentioning that with the upcharge the dishes range in price from $9.95 to $12.95, so still not too steep.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Reply
      • The Truth of the Matter

        Wow, that's not bad at all. I'll be in Atlanta the end of the month. I'll have to hit this up while I'm there.

        February 4, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Reply
  30. oldbones24

    I love my hens, fresh eggs every day. Only problem I have one that is 9 years old and she doesn't lay any more and I just can eat her. She's my pet.

    February 4, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • LK

      Good on you for not eating her :). I could not do it either.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Reply
    • CherryMama

      Oh me neither. When my Sweetheart, Lady, and Big Blue pass away, they're getting buried in the garden. :-)

      February 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Reply
    • macs

      That old girl has earned her keep. I keep all of my old hens. They deserve a happy life. It's their retirement.

      February 5, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  31. Non-man

    I stopped reading when he invoked deities...

    February 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  32. Padraig

    I hope that, with all the extra money these chickens are bringing in, the restaurant owner will not slaughter them or have them killed when they are no longer able to lay eggs. They deserve to live their lives out being cared for and loved.

    February 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Reply
    • woody

      That is when they make the best chicken and noodle soup, after they stop laying. Chickens are part of the food group, not a pet. Damn some people. I support (People Eating Tasty Animals)

      February 4, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • John Thomas

      Oh for heaven sake, they are chickens. When they can't lay, they become soup. Screw this letting them live happy and peaceful lives afterward.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Reply
    • Fiona

      This fad for keeping laying hens has an unfortunate side effect: people are dumping chickens when they tire of them or they molt. One of my local animal shelters has loads of chickens for adoption because they are found by the roadside and it's a no-kill shelter...so what to do? Naive people who think it might be fun and good for the kids to have fresh eggs popping out of pristine hens do not think it through to the end. Hens don't produce forever, chicken manure stinks, chickens get sick...and you have to be able to deal with all that. Or don't keep chickens.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Reply
      • macs

        My old birds I keep around. It's not like they are draining my bank account and they continue to do what they do best...eat bugs, scatter the cow manure around looking for edible morsels and poop a lot which makes excellent plant food for the vegetable garden. It's a win-win for me.

        February 5, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Reply
    • LK

      I agree. I hope they get fair treatment and nice long lives after they can stop laying eggs.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Reply
      • No Fixin' Stupid

        They will live forever in our memories of a big pot of soup.

        February 5, 2014 at 7:28 am | Reply
  33. Don't Forget the Honeybees

    He should add some honeybee hives to his list of assets.

    February 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Reply
    • The Truth of the Matter

      I was thinking the same thing.

      February 4, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Reply
  34. MadMax

    Gays and Lesbians can Learn a Lesson or Two from Chicken on how to lay their own Eggs by living a Straight Life, Therefore, I am developing G&LS Vaccines to Eradicate G&Ls Mental Disease by Vaccination Process Just like any other Human Diseases like Polio Vaccination, Chickenpox Vaccination etc etc.

    February 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Reply
    • oldbones24

      WTF

      February 4, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Reply
    • PushingBack

      Don't worry, they'll probably cure your ignorance first.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Reply
      • macs

        Sadly some things are incurable...

        February 5, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Reply
    • Eric

      go f**k yourself buddy.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • Couldn't Just Leave It

      Speaking of mental diseases, there's a cure for using caps in the middle of a sentence. Your emPHAsis with the caPs adds to the ignorance of your post. Have an ice day.

      February 5, 2014 at 7:33 am | Reply
  35. Old Baily

    I have 11 chickens and have wonderful eggs; if I did not have my own chickens, I'd pay $4 per dozen. I will soon be offering eggs for donations to contribute to a project to keep our local park from being logged / clear cut. See http://www.mildredkanipepark.org

    February 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  36. Josie Behnke

    Though they do taste better where I am at you can get a dozen farm raised eggs for a couple of bucks...so paying 4 dollars for one dish is a bit steep in price and I would not pay it for only a couple of eggs. I can buy more and cook at home for less then that.

    February 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Reply
    • oldbones24

      but you can feed the hens for less.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Reply
    • chrisrapier

      Josie, you can make almost any dish in a restaurant for less if you decide to make it at home. Restaurants have to pay for every single aspect of running a business out of their food costs – that includes, rent, utilities, wages, insurance, taxes, legal fees, etc etc etc... So yes, you are right in that you could make it for less at home and if that is what matters the most to you then you should do just that.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  37. smc

    All other things the same (organic fed, these aren't even really free range), I'd rather get eggs from a farmer who has raised chickens for eggs for years instead of a former paramedic restaurant owner with no experience.

    February 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  38. rach

    This is so neat. I would definitely pay more for fresh eggs. I know not all will feel the same.. but that's fine!

    February 4, 2014 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  39. Citizen One

    Fresh eggs from local free range chickens are definitely better in taste. If you're the type of person that makes egg based dishes where you can taste the eggs, and it's worth it to you to savor the flavor, it's worth the upcharge.

    However, if you like to bake, or create dishes where an egg is key but overpowered by other flavorful things (onions, peppers, etc.) it's really not worth it, because you won't get anything more out of the egg.

    $4 upcharge seems a little hefty, though. $4 is around what a dozen local eggs costs here, but regular factory eggs are around $2 a dozen, so it's only a $2 upcharge. I'd struggle to justify paying $6 a dozen.

    If you know local farmers (or those who keep chickens in their back yard), you may be able to arrange to trade for the eggs, or to provide feed or care in exchange for reduced prices.

    February 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Reply
    • Citizen One

      Yeah, I didn't really read the article before I posted. My comment still stands, however, I would also add that I applaud any restaurant that's willing to grow or raise their own food. If I had the money, I'd pay the upcharge for the home-raised/grown ingrediants just to encourage the restaurant to continue. I have to say, that's a huge upcharge for two fresh eggs, so I probably would not have the money to eat there in the first place.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Reply
      • chrisrapier

        You aren't just paying a $4 upcharge for the eggs. You are paying $4 for the eggs, the coop, the feed, the time invested, some level of profit, and all the rest. Eating in a restaurant is *never* going to be as cheap as eating at home because a restaurant *must* pay for *all* business expenses from what they collect from you.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • Humberto

      What free range chickens Opie ?

      February 4, 2014 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  40. Humberto

    He would have made more raising canaries.

    February 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  41. palintwit

    It would be much more fun to lob a few of those at Sarah Palin.

    February 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  42. SF

    The chance of Salmonella is high. Track feces via shoes into the kitchen or from handling and eggs. Perhaps a bad idea.

    February 4, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • kippyafd

      My guess is that they wash the eggs before taking them into restaurant. They probably have "chicken" shoes also.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  43. Humberto

    That's a lot of crap and flies on the roof . Hope no one gets salmonella.

    February 4, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  44. Guest

    Eggs are eggs, period. I wouldn't pay more, all eggs taste the same and I've had them all. Mix eggs in a dish and it's even harder to tell.

    February 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Reply
    • DAT

      Nope. "Eggs are eggs" is NOT true. Your comment comes from someone who hasn't tasted a "local" egg.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:17 pm | Reply
    • DAT

      And I'll bet you think all tomatoes taste like those sort-of-red things you buy in a supermarket.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Reply
    • get realist

      Hear that everybody? "Guest" has had them ALL! No reason to debate, you can all go home...

      February 4, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Reply
    • get realist

      I love when people put the word "period" at the end of a sentence like that somehow make their dumb opinion law.

      Just because you don't have taste buds, doesn't mean others share your miserable existence..

      February 4, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • LK

      Agreed. I've tried the organic crud but it tastes exactly the same to me. I notice no difference whatsoever. I've tried a lot of organic foods too. Not just from supermarkets, from farmer's markets. No difference. No idea why people pay more for it.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Reply
      • DAT

        First, local/home grown and "organic" are two totally different, separate things. Second, it sounds like you, too, have no taste buds.

        February 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Reply
      • JacinJax

        Organic means no pesticides or additives. Its not about taste but content. Just like hormone or antibiotic free doesn't affect the taste but what you are putting in your body. And it does make a difference. The overuse of antibiotics in healthy herds is contributing to disease resistance to antibiotics. The large amounts of hormones added to the feed of chickens and herd animals have been found to contribute to early puberty in children.

        February 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Reply
        • NoToOrganics

          You do know that organic farmers are allowed to use pesticides too. Difference is, they can only use "Natural" pesticides. Natural pesticides are actually much more toxic than conventional pesticides and they have to be used more often because they deteriorate quicker. Don't let the word "organic" fool you. Don't be a sheeple and do some research on the topic. You may be killing yourself faster eating organic than you would eating non-organic foods.

          February 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
        • NoToOrganics

          Here is a good article you should read on the organic topic.

          http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2014/01/organic_vs_conventional_produce_for_kids_you_don_t_need_to_fear_pesticides.html

          February 4, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
        • No Fixin' Stupid

          "Organic" is a quick way to separate consumers who passed high school science classes from consumers who spend their time making hash pipes out of soda cans.

          February 5, 2014 at 7:41 am |
      • No Fixin' Stupid

        It is classic status-seeking behavior by the middle class.

        Once upon a time lobster was what poor people in New England ate. Salmon was the cheap fish that was fed to servants and dogs. Crabs weren't even considered fit for human consumption. Now they're prestigious foods and a sign that someone has the wealth to indulge their appetites.

        Tanned skin and big muscles were the signs of some clod who had to labor with a shovel to earn a living. Now they prove that you have the money to not be slaving away in a windowless cubicle, that you have the free time to spend in a gym or lounging about on vacation.

        "Organic" vegetables and "free range" eggs are more of the same. A century ago they were proof that you were a bumpkin who couldn't afford to go to the grocery. Now they're proof that you have enough money not to go to the grocery.

        February 5, 2014 at 7:37 am | Reply
        • Ryan

          You are mistaken. While I understand your sentiment in your snarky comments you are wrong here. Smoking was cool 4 years ago, but knowledge of their harmful effects changes that perception today. It goes both ways. Advances in medical sciences continually change the treatment and prevention of disease. All things change, but these changes shouldnt be blamed on hipsters and class.

          I think the government provides plenty of misinformation that has many people questioning its authenticity and motivations. If I prefer to spend a few extra bucks on the food I eat because I do not want Monsanto GMO food then that does not mean i have excess money and am not informed. It means that I choose to believe that natural is a better alternative and I make sacrifices elsewhere. I do not have cable TV, I eat at restaurants rarely, and I buy from my local veganic farmer.

          Again, I agree with some of your sentiments, but your negative, snarky attitude makes others just disregard everything you say.

          February 5, 2014 at 10:35 am |
        • Thinking things through

          No Fixin... Your first two paragraphs are correct. You are mistaken, by and large, on the third. Organic and free range was essentially all there was a century ago - people switched a bit later on than that to the supermarket factory farm, because of convenience. You didn't have to grow your own, barter with neighbors, or anything like that. One stop shopping - convenience. Now there might be people wanting free range or organic (which they can now get at the supermarket) without really investigating what free range legally means - not much. In my case, I know my producers - I've seen the farms, and I see how the animals are raised. The eggs are GOOD! (And, better for you.)

          And with lobsters - we humans finally wised up and found out how good they are!

          February 6, 2014 at 11:43 am |
  45. Ann

    I'm curious what the regular menu price is ... and what percentage the increase is.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:57 am | Reply
  46. Charlene

    They probably are tastier and healthier, but like most things good for you, its just too expensive.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:49 am | Reply
  47. Katrina Wogoman

    I would definitely pay more for fresh eggs rather than eggs from the mistreated, suffering, battery hens that provide restaurants with their eggs currently. Tastes better, looks better, and you know what you are eating. Delicious eggs from a happy animal.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:24 am | Reply
    • The Truth

      Just because a restaurant raises chickens for eggs does not mean they are treated or fed any better than those on farms. Also there is no guarantee on being more fresh either. There will be days the flock lay more eggs and days they lay less and chickens do not align their schedules with busy and slow days. Plus eggs are not layed with lables so stock rotation is suspect at best. The point, the eggs they serve may have been layed days ago and be as "old" as eggs bought from a store/farm.

      Add the fact that the restaurant probably takes advantages of inspection loop holes because they are a restaurant not a farm so health inpections would follow restaurant guidelines which have nothing about raising livestock. In the end the eggs maybe better than from an "evil" farm or they could be worse. Its a crap shoot. In the end there is less regulation on the quality of the eggs raised by the restaurant, so you really have no clue whether they are better or not.

      February 4, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Reply
      • cmacan

        Mr Truth...
        in this case you can be absolutly sure that they are far fresher than store bought eggs.
        Store bought eggs are weeks old at best and in some cases months old.
        in this case the roof coop eggs are no more than 7 days old as they are all used up every week during sunday brunch.

        February 4, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Reply
      • shoos

        I agree with you. It may sound sunshine and roses but if they are on the roof accessed by a ladder, who knows?

        February 4, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Reply
      • XD

        "Regulation" allows factory farm animals to be treated like nothing more than money-making robots. They are packed/stacked in dark rooms where they may never get the chance to see sunlight or scratch at the earth, pumped full of antibiotics/hormones to keep them alive and producing, then they are killed when they are used up–and "regulation" allows this.

        It may be a shack on a rooftop, but I can promise you it is far nicer than where normal store-bought eggs come from. I bet any chicken from a factory farm would love to live in that setup.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Reply
      • Matt

        Sorry mate but you are an idiot. A 12 year old can tell you that the chickens on this rooftop live MUCH better lives than any chicken in a factory farm. That fact that you are even trying to debate this is absolutely moronic.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Reply
    • kippyafd

      Exactly! I love our free range chickens' eggs! I will not eat restaurant eggs or store bought eggs. There is something to be said about getting eggs from chickens you know have been treated right.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Reply

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