Restaurant veteran Michael Gondevas is known for his popular spots in Jersey City.
In the Hamilton Park area, he has been operating two restaurants for years. In December, he opened Chickie’s, which serves Italian favorites such as pasta, pizza, meatballs and sandwiches, along with a lengthy cocktail, wine and beer list.
“I’ve always loved Jersey Italian,” Gondevas says. “We felt like this was the perfect spot for it.”
Chickie’s joins his Hamilton Inn (2010) and Hamilton Pork (2016), one of New Jersey Monthly’s best restaurants in Jersey City, on the same block, making it easy for him to keep an eye on all three. But that doesn’t mean he’s done.
“I always have dreams to do more,” he says.
How did you get started?
Michael Gondevas: I started working for Dave Carney, who owns the Madison Bar and Grill, for 12 or 13 years. He taught me everything I know. I had an opportunity to purchase the Hamilton Ale House about 13 years ago and jumped at it. About six years later we opened Hamilton Pork.
What drew you to Jersey City?
I grew up in Jersey City, born and raised. I worked in Hoboken for a lot of years and I knew Jersey City was vastly becoming a great destination for dining and restaurants. When I saw the development happening and the opportunity, I knew it was the right time to open a place.
Did the pandemic mess with your plans to open Chickie’s?
I bought the space right before the pandemic in 2021. We had some renovations and equipment changes to do. Our landlords were really great and worked with us to come up with a plan so we could survive, because it ended up not being the best time to buy. Everything was a real challenge.
How’s it going?
It’s been great, for a brand new restaurant. We have a pretty good following from the other restaurants and our neighbors are great. We’re very fortunate.
What made you want to dive into Italian dining?
I’ve always loved Jersey Italian. You can walk to all of our other locations from Chickie’s, so it just made a lot of sense logistically to open here. Being short-staffed and having a small staff was a blessing because we can share things between the three restaurants.
Do you have any favorites on the Chickie’s menu?
I love our pizzas. Our chicken parm, too, which has become popular already. We have great cocktails and a great wine list and beers. I really love everything we’re serving right now. Chickie’s is a great little neighborhood Italian restaurant.
What are you looking forward to this year?
We’re definitely looking for a bit more normalcy. I’m really looking forward to the warm weather and for our outdoor dining to expand. It’s always a good feeling to be outside again.
Do you plan to open more restaurants?
I hope to, for sure. We’d love to do more. I have some ideas for Jersey City and beyond. I would love to do what we do in the city in the suburbs, but who knows? I love that I have three businesses here in Jersey City. I work with some amazing people and we have a great team.
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