Possessing a Ph.D. in education, Krystal Cross began 2021 as an assistant principal at public charter school Jubilee Academy San Antonio.

Now, she spends each day fully focused on running her first restaurant, A Chicago Bite, which she opened in July 2021. The eatery offers Chicago-style food in north central San Antonio.

Cross said she and her son, James Cross, moved from Chicago to San Antonio six years ago after her son decided a change in scenery would benefit them. They love San Antonio and its diversity, she said.

“It’s like a big melting pot; everybody kind of meshes in,” Cross said.

One day, her son suggested she open a restaurant so he could have more chances to enjoy her fried chicken, she said.

Cross said she typically tops fried chicken with Chicago Mild Sauce, a condiment popular in the southern and western parts of Chicago often used on fried chicken, ribs and hot links. It combines barbecue sauce, ketchup, hot sauce and mild spices, she said.

“I put some [Chicago Mild Sauce] on some chicken one time and posted a picture of that just because it was my dinner for the night. Everybody who saw it said, ‘Oh my God, that looks so good, you should open a restaurant,’” Cross said.

Cross pitched the restaurant idea to her brother Chris Irving, but it was her cousin Johnathan Chatman, who lives in Houston, who came to visit and became her business partner.

“In that time, we had the bank account, the [employer identification number and] a business license; [we] found a location, and we were signing a lease, all in four days,” she said.

Cross said she spent another four months outfitting the physical location inside a small retail strip off Evans Road near the Encino Park neighborhood.

“It’s been a whirlwind; it turned my life upside-down quickly,” Cross said.

The menu at A Chicago Bite features jumbo wings, Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago dogs, Vienna Beef Polish sausages, gyros, cheeseburgers, fried catfish, chicken, fish and pizza puffs.

Patrons may also enjoy fish fry Fridays or partake in a soul food special on Sundays.

Last July, Cross and her family—many of whom pitch in at the eatery—celebrated one year in business.

Cross said she is blown away by the community’s response— especially those who have never eaten Chicago-style food.

“That’s one of the things that sets apart A Chicago Bite from other places. Here, you get a bite of Chicago [cuisine], but you get authentic, homemade food,” Cross said.