It was 1953 when Agostino “Augie” Mastroianni and Homer Zwick came together as partners to run the then one-year-old Chicken Manor Restaurant which was located on what was then called State Route 8, the main road through Stark County to Cleveland and south. The original restaurant was small seating around 150 people and served a limited menu of primarily chicken, fish and ham dishes. Their fried chicken was their claim to fame because of the special breading that came from an old family recipe along with their cole slaw and their signature hot rice, or “hotsauce” as it’s called even now. They were also known for the way they served their hearty dishes; the chicken on the bottom topped with French fries. You got your moneys worth at Chicken Manor.
Not unlike many other partnerships, Homer and Augie decided to part ways within a year of their coming together and Augie bought it from Homer. With the support of his wife Lucille (Lucy), Augie set out to go it alone.
The restaurant business isn’t an easy one. Open six days a week (he closed on Mondays), and with his home in Waynesburg, the days were long. He would come to the restaurant early in the morning to prep for the day. Fortunately he had good staff and a patient and understanding wife in support of him. At home, Lucy had her hands full raising their three boys: Frank, Mario and Danny.
Over the years the restaurant grew in popularity. Chicken Manor was known for a big meal at a reasonable price. Augie was big ongiving people their moneys worth. Business was good and in the mid 1970’s he decided to expand. In 1977 he broke ground to double the size of the restaurant. He relocated the kitchen to back of the existing building and added a large dining room behind that doubling the seating capacity to over 350. The renovation opened on Valentines Day in 1978. Back then, the competition wasn’t what it is today. It wasn’t uncommon, particularly on the weekends, to have both “sides” operating at full capacity with a line of people still waiting to be seated.
Augie officially retired in 1988 handing the business over to his son Danny who agreed to take over the family business. Mario, his second son, was a guidance counselor in the Kent school district and worked at the restaurant on the weekend and for a time after he retired from teaching. Mario officially hung up his apron in 2008. Frank, his first son, owned the Chicken Manor in Kent, Ohio.
Today Danny runs the business and is lucky to have his son, Greg, working there too. Three generations and still going strong. The proliferation of chain restaurants, fast food places and economic conditions sadly has driven many of the locally-owned restaurants out of business, but Chicken Manor has weathered it all and is proud to be one of the oldest restaurant in Stark County. Both Augie and now Danny after him have been so very blessed to have had, and still have, so many wonderful people working along side of them over the years several of which are pictured in snapshots posted here on the Web site. A heartfelt thank you to all of you past and present…you are the lifeblood of Chicken Manor.
As with many things, the best is saved for last. Chicken Manor has been successful because ofthe many, many wonderful customers who have come and gone over the five plus decades. Three and even four generations of some families come in on a regular basis. People who have moved away make their pilgrimage back to Chicken Manor when home visiting family and friends. It’s not uncommon for people to pick up a carri-out on the way to the airport to take a little bit of home back with them. It’s that kind of loyalty that keeps Danny and his staff going. THANK YOU to all of our customers past and present for enabling us to continue Augie’s aim; to give people a lot of value for a little price.