Turn up the heat: Rooster’s, they’ve got the sauce


Diana Sidorevich, Contributing Writer

Tucked into a corner on Charlotte St. in Utica, a casual burger joint named Rooster’s has been perfecting smash burgers since November 2021.

I walked into a room that was foggy from beef patties sizzling under a cast iron burger press. A carpeted floor, stick-on wood paneling, and the tunes coming from the radio gave the impression that I stepped into a classic 1950s restaurant.

A couple seated at a red table was quietly eating burgers and a basket of cheese fries. Another couple sat at the long bar, fixed on their meals. Squeeze bottles of sauces lined an open shelf and two friends were working the grill, preparing a large to-go order. 

Richard Snyder and Irvin Carney grew up in the same neighborhood and when their friend Javon Pratt opened up Roosters, all three of them ended up working together. 

“It’s a good atmosphere,” Carney said as he introduced me to their story. 

After his previous restaurant endeavor, a pizza place in Utica called Pie Squared, Davis decided to perfect the burger. The small menu is a testament to their focus on making a burger really well and Rooster’s often has specials on the menu.

Recently, Carney made a chicken burger called the Swervin Irvin—a ground chicken patty topped with pesto, fresh mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, and a balsamic drizzle. 

Their January special was so popular that it was kept on all month: the Oklahoma City Smashburger. Shoestring onions were pressed directly into the fat on the beef patty, topped with American and cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, BBQ sauce and their house-made Rooster sauce. 

For those generally unimpressed with house-made sauces, Rooster sauce packs flavor and a bit of texture onto the burgers. Their crispy nuggets would make a fine vehicle for the Rooster sauce. A lot of customers compare it to Big Mac sauce. 

They make it easy. There are three burgers on the menu: The Rooster, The Classic, and The Figgy. You can get any of them “chopped,” where the burger gets chopped on the grill and the cheese gets tossed in there too, and served on a hoagie roll, or you can get any of the burgers served on top of fries. I went to Rooster’s with a group of five, so we got to try it all. 

Chicken nuggets, Figgy fries, The Rooster, cheese fries, Double Rooster chopped

Figgy fries—highly recommended. They’re umami but have the sweetness of the fig jam that fits well with the salty, savory profile. The Rooster was nested between two perfectly toasted buns and topped with lettuce, pickles, onions, American cheese and signature sauce. Between the cheese fries and regular, both were good but the cheese wasn’t special enough to warrant ordering those again. 

Rooster’s hours work with a college student’s schedule. They’re open Monday through Friday, 1 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and again from 4 – 8 p.m. The lunch rush is crazy so either give yourself some time or call in to order. They’re closed on the weekends.