Detroit's Durden's is new contender in chicken sandwich wars

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There's a new contender in the chicken wars.

Social media has been the battle ground, abuzz as customers weigh which fast food joint like Popeye's and Chick-fil-A pack the best poultry between two buns.

Chef Tony Durden from Durden's catering at Eight Mile and Livernois is entering the fray.

In addition to cooking up feasts, Durden's runs a takeout counter on the back end of Baker's Keyboard Lounge and says they have the biggest, baddest chicken sandwich on any block.

"You've got the chicken breast rubbed down in marinade, a five spice blend. We toss it in the batter, we mix up, toss it in the flour, drop it in the grease and when that thing comes out of the grease serve it on a tasted brioche bun, spicy coleslaw and some of our bang-bang sauce," Durden said. 

A yogurt-based concoction marries the sweet and the spicy for one banging chicken sandwich, which is aptly named the Young Gripper.

"This is lit. The best sandwich I've had in like the last year or so," said Delonte Hollowell.

Business at Durden's Catering has picked up since unveiling the Young Gripper last week. It could not have come at a better time.

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Durden's, like most businesses on the Avenue of Fashion, has been feeling the squeeze from back-to-back utility and road projects that began in 2018.

"It's been kind of slow. Some days it's like it costs you more money to open up your doors than you were bringing in revenue," said Durden.

The city of Detroit's streetscape project is the current headache that won't be finished until the end of the year.

"People are hanging on by their chinny chin chin, if you will," said Rufus Bartell of Simply Casual clothing store. "You still got utility bills that are coming. You still got staffing, you still have mortgages and rent payments to make."

Rufus Bartell says he is losing about 75 percent of his business. Hugh Smith owns the historic Baker's Keyboard Lounge and says business is down at least 50 percent.

"The way this thing was rolled out, again, it could've been done a lot better and the city admits to that," said Smith. "But we're beyond that point now. Now we're saying, this impact, how can we move forward.

"Please come and support Baker's, support Livernois, support all the businesses in our community so we can all survive and thrive."

And if you're eager to weigh in on the chicken wars, you just might want to start here.