Dean Bourgoin, 43, purchased the business from longtime owner Norma George late last year. He opened in early January.
Bourgoin gutted and remodeled the interior and repainted the exterior a sunny shade of Big Bird-yellow. The menu still offers fried chicken, of course.
"We're keeping it the Chubby Chicken," he said.
Bourgoin moved to San Juan County from Albuquerque seven years ago. He also builds custom fireplaces for luxury homes through his other business, Artistic Walls.
Bourgoin has never before operated a restaurant.
"It's very entertaining," he said. "It's a lot of fun."
Chubby Chicken's small staff makes everything it can in-house, including the gravy and barbecue sauce. Besides the fried chicken and wings, hamburgers are proving popular. Breakfast is served all day, and Bourgoin is pushing poutine French fries with green peas smothered in cheese and beef gravy.
"It's not the fact I'm a chef Lord knows I'm not," Bourgoin said. "I have good taste buds. When I like something, most people like it."
Bourgoin has been giving out samples of his chicken at various organizations to build goodwill and attract customers. On Tuesday, he stopped by the San Juan County Sheriff's Office.
"They tore through 25 wings pretty darn quick," he said.
Before reopening Chubby Chicken, Bourgoin enjoyed the product at other restaurants.
"I'm the type of guy, if I'm driving by a (Kentucky Fried Chicken), I've got to stop," he said.
Chubby Chicken occupies a decades-old house at 910 N.E. Aztec Blvd. (Highway 550). The restaurant has no tables, but customers are welcome to use the drive-through or come in the door to grab an order to go.
Norma George ran the business for more than two decades before closing it in 2012 due to illness. Aztec officials could not be reached for comment on the restaurant's reopening.
Bourgoin said he thought about opening a restaurant for a long time before approaching George. The business was not listed for sale. "I just asked one day," he said.
The business' legacy provides a degree of comfort for customers, he said.
"It's rather hard to start from scratch, and this place already had a following because the previous owner did such a good job," he said.
Chubby Chicken is open 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.