Local restaurant uses fresh locally sourced meats and ingredients to make the most common fast-food items
By Daniel Baldwin
On Aug. 8, 2022, Utica resident and former construction worker Muhamed Dautovic opened his very own chicken restaurant on River Road in Utica.
“I was in the construction business first,” Dautovic said. “And, as I was getting older, I wanted to change my occupation. I was thinking and searching of what would be the best, for me to do, and then came across a friend of mine who recommended the food industry. That’s how I decided to open this place. I wanted to have my own restaurant. The main food will be chicken. My son was the one who chose the name for it, which was Chicken Licious.”
Dautovic said that his chicken restaurant is more like a fast-food restaurant. Their menu consists of the same foods sold at other fast-food chains (fried chicken tenders, burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken wraps, fries and salads). Customers do not have to wait long for their food, as the wait time is 5-6 minutes, according to Dautovic. Chicken Licious also has a drive-thru window.
“I decided to go with fast food,” Dautovic said. “It started with just the chicken, chicken sandwiches, and wraps, but now we have burgers.”
Although, when it comes to getting the ingredients and raw meats, Dautovic does not get it from the warehouses or food distributors far away. He instead gets his chicken, foods and other ingredients from local farmers and businesses.
A vast majority of restaurants (90%) order and use frozen foods, according to Foodbeverageinsider.com.
But Dautovic does not use any processed or frozen foods. He gets his meats and ingredients locally, in the Mohawk Valley.
“I don’t freeze anything,” Dautovic said. “We don’t use any processed food. I don’t buy stuff from those big guys (factories and food distributors) who freeze stuff and who knows how long it has been sitting in the warehouses. So, for me, it’s safer to buy locally. I know it’s fresh and prepared fresh each morning.”
This sort of grocery shopping was difficult, for Dautovic.
“In this economy, it’s hard to find the right place to get the stuff that you need,” Dautovic said. “It’s not easy because you have to always look for the stuff around here instead of just buying from the big guys. It would be easier to buy from the big guys, but for now, I don’t want to. In this case, shopping locally, I have to go out there and look for the products. There are many different farmers and stores.”
He eventually found these local farms–businesses — got his local meats and ingredients.
“They (local farmers) do most of the work for me,” Dautovic said. “They prepare and deliver everything. I take over and then I move on.”
The foods served at Chicken Licious are always fresh.
“What kind of process [other fast-food chains have, when preparing food], I don’t want to do it here,” Dautovic said. “I know what I do. Everything is fresh. I prepare everything and all day, it’s always fresh. We don’t pre-cook. We don’t leave it [food] there to sit on the heaters for who knows how long. As soon as you order, we drop the chicken in the oil or grill.”
Customers can also get grilled chicken at Chicken Licious. This kind of chicken is healthier than fried chicken because it has less oil and fat, according to Larosachicken.com.
“Grilled chicken is the best and healthiest food,” Dautovic said. “If you decide to go with grilled, it’s very healthy.”
Chicken Licious is a local business, not a fast-food chain.
Dautovic said the majority of residents, in the Mohawk Valley and other towns, shop locally and support local businesses. The community support towards local businesses was one of the reasons why he bought his meats and ingredients locally.
“A lot of people like local businesses,” Dautovic said. “I buy locally and people appreciate that.”
He also did this to help the local farmers and businesses financially.
“I like to support local businesses,” Dautovic said. “And in return, they come and buy products from me. I think that’s the best idea to do. I support them, they support me.”
He wants to expand; but he does not want to do it that quickly. He takes a slow and cautious approach when running his business.
“I didn’t want to go crazy with advertisements because in every business, you have to walk before running,” Dautovic said. “I would love to expand, but for now, I just want to build customers, get the name out there and then we will see down the road.”
So far, Dautovic is keeping his business afloat, despite the slow approach. Chicken Licious is always getting new and returning customers.
Dautovic received a lot of good reviews and feedback from his customers about his products.
“We’re always getting new people,” he said. “They never said anything bad. They know it’s not processed. It’s pretty much all positive.”
He has had a fun time running the restaurant. It is a job he loves and enjoys.
“It’s fun,” he said. “All the employees who started on the first day are still here. Every employee, still here — we’re like a family. I appreciate them. They appreciate me. I’m happy.”