It was a sunny, cold Saturday afternoon in Uptown Oxford. Inside a storefront facing the back of the park bandstand, people were carrying boxes of bottles in from a side door. A drink dispenser had a note telling people who couldn’t get ice for their soft drink to see the bartender. Workers wearing shirts with “Love. Honor. Chicken.” emblazoned on the back bustled through a newly-built kitchen making orders.
It was day zero for the latest Oxford restaurant, OxVegas Chicken, an invite-only party before opening to the public the next day.
“I don't know what I expected, but the two years leading up to this were very stressful, to where once we actually got here, I forgot to set some expectations for once we opened,” Tyler Storer said. “But here we are, we're figuring it out as we go. So far, so good.”
“It's stressful and exciting. I mean, Tyler and I have worked for this for two years now. It's a dream come true. Obviously there's going to be a lot of stuff we're figuring out as we go, but it's beautiful in here. Everyone's happy. The chicken's great. I'm just happy to be where I am today with a great partner,” Jackson Trester said. “We've learned a lot over this journey and we're just thankful to be open and be able to show what we envisioned over the last few years to the public of Oxford. So it's going to be hopefully a staple for this town.”
Storer is a Farmer School of Business supply chain operations and management major who will be entering the Ohio National Guard through the ROTC after graduation this spring. Trester graduated last year with a degree in finance and works as a non-ferrous trader at the David J. Joseph Company.
The pair first met at the Farmer School’s Startup Weekend in 2021, came up with the idea for OxVegas Chicken a few months later, and have been working on it since. “We leaned on a ton of professors for help, especially in the entrepreneurship department,” Storer said.
In a 2023 Facebook post, Storer and Trester said the concept is “a fast-casual, limited-service restaurant with a concise menu that includes chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, mac and cheese, and Texas toast. We understand that our menu is not extensive, but we want to focus on what we know and what we believe is needed in Oxford.”
The restaurant, which also has a bar, is open from noon to midnight Sunday through Wednesday, and stays open until 3 a.m. on Thursday through Saturday for the late-night crowd.
Julia Mendelson, a senior sports leadership and management major, joined the team six months ago. “They needed someone to do social media, marketing, handle all that stuff. Tyler and Jackson pretty much know nothing about that, so I've taken over for them and helped create a face for the restaurant,” she said.
“It's been super fun. Working with both of them has been incredible. I get to collaborate with them every day and get their opinions on things, they ask my opinions,” Mendelson said. “Being able to see it go from nothing into what it is now has been a really cool process, something that I know all three of us are extremely proud of.”
“It's definitely a team effort. We could not be where we are without the help of everyone around us. So we're just grateful to be here and grateful that everyone's willing to help us and hope we succeed in the long run,” Storer said.
“We’re hoping to get a couple seconds to be able to sit back and actually take it in and enjoy it,” Trester laughed. “It hasn't happened so far.”