The 'Almost Famous' fried chicken sandwich is made with gluten-free flour for the breading on the chicken and comes with pickled Fresno peppers and black garlic coleslaw. (Photo courtesy State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria)
By Kate Bradshaw
When Lars Smith and his family opened the first State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria in Los Altos in 2018, the restaurant quickly became busier than the Peninsula family that founded it had expected.
So when they realized they didn't have enough room in their fryers to keep up with demand, one of the menu items they'd carefully developed was written off the menu. The "Almost Famous" fried chicken sandwich became just that – a cult favorite now served only during less busy hours at lunchtime and on Mondays.
Now in preparation for a third location in Redwood City's Marsh Manor shopping center, they're adding extra fryers to better keep up with demand and keep the fried chicken sandwiches as a permanent menu staple. They're developing a menu that includes four or five different types of chicken sandwiches, including a plant-based option, says Smith, State of Mind’s co-owner and executive chef.
"The goal is to have it available all the time in Redwood City," he says.
They're well into construction and hoping to begin the soft-opening process around Nov. 1, barring any major supply chain problems.
One of the obstacles the team has faced in opening the new location has been major backups with getting key pieces of kitchen equipment. At one point in their search, they were told there was an extensive 47-week back order for the fryers they wanted, but they've since sourced the equipment they need, according to Smith.
The original fried chicken recipe is a buttermilk-marinated chicken breast, dredged with cup4cup gluten-free flour. This flour blend gives the finished product a crisp texture and light brown color – being gluten-free is a bonus, Smith says.
The fried chicken is then topped with black garlic coleslaw and Fresno peppers pickled in pale ale and served on a potato bun from Kelly's French Bakery in Santa Cruz.
Lars Smith, co-owner of State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria, makes a pizza in the downtown Los Altos restaurant's kitchen in February 2019. (Photo by Magali Gauthier)
The new location will be where the former Squeeze In diner was at the Marsh Manor shopping center in Redwood City, near Menlo Park's Suburban Park neighborhood. The diner, where Smith's brother Andrew had been a regular, had long been closed before the business team considered opening a new location in the space, he says.
The State of Mind team includes Lars' brother Andrew, wife Cristina and father Jim, as well as business partners Amy Alcantar and Victor Beccera. They've also got credentials as bona fide locals: the brothers grew up in Palo Alto, and Cristina attended Menlo-Atherton High School.
State of Mind opened its Public House and Pizzeria in Los Altos in 2018 and the Slice House in Palo Alto in 2021. The Redwood City location is intended to be more similar in concept to the Los Altos location, with full pizzas (rather than slices) available alongside salads, wings and appetizers. There will also be pinball.
They won't be selling burgers out of support for a neighboring business, though.
"Our buddies at Freewheel do a great burger," Smith says.
In addition, they don't have the room to have as many draft beers available as the Los Altos location, but they are planning to offer a curated canned beer selection, wine and a low-proof cocktail menu.
"We're really excited," Smith says. "We are very thankful for the community that we grew up in coming out to support us the way they have in the last five years."
==I Coming soon: State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria, 3710 Florence St., Redwood City. Instagram: @stateofmindpub. ==