Chiavetta’s Chicken: A Western New York and Wekiva Island Favorite

“What is Chiavetta’s Chicken?”

I heard one of our guests ask this as they perused the Fire Pit Friday menu signs the other day.

The thought of half chickens being cooked over an open fire in racks that are frequently turned to ensure even cooking, the brushing of that amazing Chiavetta’s Marinade, reaching that charred black chicken status, and oh, that amazing smoky and vinegary smell all take me back home to Allegany, NY. Is your mouth watering yet? It should be!!

Man cooking chicken

I remember riding in my father’s truck from the fire hall with Styrofoam containers of the half chickens served with potato, macaroni and cucumber salads, and of course a roll and butter. I think of countless benefits for people needing assistance in our small towns in Western New York, countless graduation parties and cook outs with friends and family on a weekend.

Chiavetta’s Chicken has been a staple in Western New York since after WWII. The company was started by Thomas and Eleanor Chiavetta, who were poultry farmers. They learned about barbecuing through the Erie County Farm and Home Center in East Aurora and started catering weddings and banquets as they continued to operate Chiavetta’s Churchside Farms. By 1957, they were catering bigger events and doing well enough to buy a new truck. The company has continued to grow into the absolute staple it is today.

Now, a new generation is involved in the family business.

According to a story from WYRK, third generation family member Kathleen Chiavetta started working at the business when she was 10, packaging silverware. When she was 12, the family began to sell the famous Barbeque Marinade, and it was Kathleen’s job to label the bottles, sometimes for nine hours, by hand. Kathleen’s children also started working on the family business when they were young. They tagged along to help in the dish room or the office.

“It’s just a thing in this family. You almost don’t have a choice.” Kathleen said in the story.

That’s not a bad thing, however, as the family gets to spend a lot of time together and eats a LOT of chicken, the story notes.

And the business goes beyond family now. Around the time of the Erie County Fair, Chiavetta’s employs 60-70 people, according to WYRK.

You can purchase Chiavetta’s Barbeque Marinade, Rib Sauce and Italian Dressing. Grab yourself some at

Here at Wekiva Island, Gary Mulini, owner of Without A Paddle Cafe and proud Western New York native, has the famous Chiavetta’s Marinade shipped here from Buffalo and tenderly brushes and turns the chickens just like they do up home.

Like Chiavetta’s, Wekiva Island and Without A Paddle Cafe are family-owned and operated businesses and believe in keeping up our small-town NY traditions and sharing them with everyone who visits Wekiva Island.

So what is Chiavetta’s Chicken? It is a tradition. It is a stroll down memory lane. It is a taste of home. Most importantly, it is a damn good meal!

Keep an eye on our events calendar and make sure to come try some yourself the next time it’s on the Fire Pit Friday menu.


– Carrie Lang Vanderheof

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