Wet Hen Café vs. Madder Than a Wet Hen
If you've ever been so mad your fists are clenched, your teeth are grinding, and you could feel steam blasting out of your ears, you've experienced being "madder than a wet hen".
So where does it come from? And why would it be used to represent a quaint little American café with a French flair? "Madder than a Wet Hen" is an American expression that seemed to originate in the south. It's popular in rural and farming communities where the behavior of chickens is common knowledge. Why? That's easy. Chickens and water just don't mix.
Old farm talk describes this phrase, which refers to the stormy temper of chickens that might find themselves in water. According to more than one account, chickens get extremely mad if they have to try and swim or fly out of water, since they do neither of these things well. Don't believe us? The next time you see a chicken throw a bucket of water on er' and see what happens.
Now let's get back to our little restaurant and hopefully Reno's newest cozy yet hip destination; Wet Hen Café. Founded and incorporated in 2010, our uniquely titled eatery came bursting out of an egg of family dreams and a passion for cooking. But it wasn't without months of creative design, as our owners Jackie and Don Handlin hoped to establish a place with much more meaning than just a simple idiom.
At Wet Hen Café we embody family history, a love of mouth-watering cuisine, support for the local community, and a desire to give people an experience they won't forget. Whether it be superior customer service, a pleasant vibe, or the ability to actually sit back and enjoy a plethora of flavors cascading over your tongue; Wet Hen Café has a place and a plate for you.
Owner Jackie Handlin is a native Nevadan who has been involved in the food industry for almost 20 years. Her passion for food comes from creative taste and her father, Jean Lafontan, a renowned and retired executive French chef of over 70 years.
Jackie's husband and our co-owner, Don, hails from a similar background. But whereas Jackie has a passion for all food, Don's heart lies with dessert, which explains the sweet treats that grace the counters of our café. And that's not all. The main reason behind the name, Wet Hen Café, comes from the idiom "madder than a wet hen," a phrase that Don himself tends to use from time to time!
However, neither Jackie nor Don wanted to use that exact phrase. After all, cute and funny as it may be, they didn't want our café to symbolize angry chickens. Instead, they wanted to educate each and every person that walked in the door about our story, and about the hundreds of extraordinary idioms that exist. In fact, Jackie even purchased a book entitled "Madder than a Wet Hen" which features dozens of these uniquely used phrases!
That's not all. Jackie and Don have a love of animals, housing over 25 chickens themselves. Each has a different personality, but they all share the same ferocity when it comes to water. And although they talked about having a chicken themed restaurant, it wasn't until a soggy, spring afternoon (yes, uncommon in Nevada, but it happens) that the deal was sealed. One look out the window at one of their infamous chickens standing in the rain, feathers pressed damply to the head, and the unforgettable look on Chicken Little's face, and Wet Hen was born. Little did we know that our name would soon raise so many eyebrows!
The Handlin duo isn't complete without a bun in the oven though. Brandon, Jackie's son, has cracked many eggs of his own in order to offer a wealth of flavors and knowledge to the recipe book. Coined "Chief of the Kitchen" and our Sous Chef, Brandon plans to incorporate many of his own scrumptious concoctions that are far from chicken food. Now that makes for the complete opposite of a fowl experience, wouldn't you say? (Get it? Fowl vs. Foul)
Tasty homemade dishes, a love for chickens, expressions whose meanings are not decipherable from their common components, and a dream to pioneer a family business has finally come together to create our Wet Hen Café. Blend in our favorite country song by Toby Keith, "You Ain't Much Fun Since I Quit Drinkin" (listen to the words - you're bound to hear "madder than an 'ole wet hen" at least once) and the desire to breed community growth, well, Wet Hen Café might have been fate from the start!
So whether you're local, or stopping by for the weekend, make it a goal to visit us for a little scratch. Wet Hen Café is not only here to fill your tasting pleasure, but to enhance local economics and culture as well. A cup of natural homegrown goods, a pinch of unique products from local artists and crafters, and stir in our cozy environment to kick back and relax. If that's not a recipe for comfort, than nothing is! Or would you rather settle for less and end up "madder than a wet hen"?