0912 the Baskits
The Baskits’ signature chicken fingers, which can be ordered with a side salad in place of fries. Photo by Madoline Markham.
With its distinct homemade batter and fresh sauce, the fried chicken tenders at the Baskits are unlike any others.
“I was never satisfied with chicken tenders at other restaurants. I ate at numerous fried chicken restaurants and knew I could come up with a way to make them better,” owner Paul Shunnarah said.
After spending endless hours in the kitchen, Shunnarah was finally able to satisfy his taste buds with the perfect marinade and sauce. In a 2009 competition with various local eateries, The Birmingham News awarded the restaurant “Favorite Chicken Tenders.”
Although the Baskits offers breakfast and dinner, lunch makes up about 45 percent of their sales, with the chicken tenders being their number one seller.
“The restaurant is fast casual and everything is flavored,” Shunnarah said.
Shunnarah remembers the restaurant really taking off as soon as the doors opened. With people coming in and out of the doors constantly those first two weeks, the staff hardly got any sleep. He even said he lost about 25 pounds during these exciting opening weeks.
Shunnarah is proud of his freestanding restaurant on Green Springs, which was originally located next door to Chop Suey Inn. It shows through his passionate gleam as he tells first timers what to order.
“If you’re looking for something on the healthy side, I’d definitely go with the chicken kabob special,” Shunnarah said. “Otherwise the chicken tenders and Philly cheese steak hoagies are the best choice.”
Having a love for food is like second nature for Shunnarah. His cooks have been with him for almost a decade and know everything should be cooked how Shunnarah likes it. And that’s how it’s always been.
Shunnarah describes his father and mother as great cooks when he was growing up. His mother’s knack for baking even helps provide some of the various cakes and deep fried pies sold in the restaurant.
His father, Fred Shunnarah, immigrated to the United States from Bethlehem at the age of 16 and worked his way up the business ladder in meat markets. Shunnarah worked for his father from a young age and learned all about food business.
Fred and Paul Shunnarah initially began their restaurant with a Mediterranean cuisine. The family owned and operated restaurant Pita World Grill starting in 2000. While the menu offered various options, the customers tended to go for chicken tenders, fries and burgers.
“With so many other Mediterranean restaurants in the area, I thought we should change to more of a fast casual restaurant with American menu items,” Shunnarah said.
With that idea in mind, the father-son duo teamed up to open their new business, the Baskits. After a lot of brainstorming, the two came up with a variety of menu options for customers. Before they knew it, their restaurant became a reality.
“Other restaurants may have similar menu items, but our food stands apart with its marinades and loaded flavors,” Shunnarah said.