L.A. chain Dave’s Hot Chicken to open 10 area locations
little [four-table] patio we have, so it would be great for customers to be able to sit down and eat.”
Though business slowed significantly during the first few weeks of the stay-athome order in March and April, she says the long lines of customers she saw prior to the pandemic have returned, and she’s seen an influx of new faces since the Black Lives Matter protests have motivated many to focus on supporting Black-owned businesses. Getting a shoutout from Beyonce on the first page of the superstar’s Black-owned establishment directory didn’t hurt either, Baker says.
She also hopes local officials will continue to help support independent restaurants with events like these, especially since Hyde Park’s summer festivals were canceled because of the pandemic.
“[Do] something fun with the community that won’t create a huge crowd,” Baker says. “Allow people to step outside and get a breath of fresh air... have one or two days when people can sit and have a quick lunch with a little music.”
The city also allows three restaurants or more to combine forces to share a closed street. That’s happened in Lincoln Park at the corner of Halsted and Schubert. That’s where Mayan Palace, Tandoor Char House and Sapori Trattoria just hosted a second weekend of a combined side-street patio.
“Ald. Michelle Smith really helped during the whole process,” says Sapori chef and owner Anthony Barbanente.
It’s a cross-cultural partnership between Italian, South Asian and Mexican chefs.
The owners say about 300 customers dined on each of the first weekend’s three days. Weekend street dining continues through October 4.
“It’s a learning process for us,” says Tandoor Char House’s Faraz Sardharia. “We’re trying to adapt to what’s in front of us.”
Tandoor Char House’s outdoor operations include one server and two food runners who bring bagged food to the patio, located 400 feet away from the restaurant. It’s an unusual setup, but server Rayshaun Vonperbandt says after being furloughed, he’s got energy to run back and forth.
“I have four months of reserve; I’m ready,” he says.
Customers won’t have to race back to Tandoor Char House to use a rest room. They can use the ones at Sapori’s.
Barbanente says they’ve had to educate some customers on social distancing policies. Vonperbandt says wearing a mask is uncomfortable in the heat, but he’s committed after seeing people crowd into bars on TV elsewhere around the country.
“I get home and I take it off and I still have phantom sensation on my face,” Vonperbandt says.
Apopular L.A. fried chicken sandwich chain now has plans to open in the Chicago market. Dave’s Hot Chicken, which started three years ago, has announced plans to open 10 locations in Chicago and the suburbs, including Northwest Indiana, according to a spokesperson. The company hasn’t signed any leases, but hopes to open its first in the area in the next six to 10 months.
Dave’s started as a parking lot pop-up in East Hollywood with long lines. Eater L.A. describes it as “street food-meetstrend food, reworked to fit the needs of the sidewalk.”
The chefs behind Dave’s, including namesake Dave Kopushyan, worked at some of L.A.’s trendiest restaurants and under celebrity chef Thomas Keller. The pop-up was a hit, growing thanks to social media marketing.
Later in 2017, the crew opened its first restaurant. Other locations followed. An investor group, the same ones behind Blaze Pizza (LeBron James’ favorite), decided to invest in Dave’s. That team includes actor Samuel L. Jackson, TV host and former New York Giant Michael Strahan, and former First Lady of California Maria Shriver.
Dave’s serves fiery and crispy chicken tenders in its sandwiches, on a menu that also boasts curly and regular fries and cole slaw. Chicken comes in different heat levels: “reaper” (extra hot), medium, mild, “lite mild,” or no spices added. They will provide competition for Nashville hot chicken vendors in Chicago including the Budlong and Fry the Coop.
In L.A., Dave’s competes with another chain, Howlin’ Ray’s. These are all places that ultimately take inspiration from Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, a Nashville icon.
Dave’s announced the Chicago franchise team of Ravi Patel and Chris Zalinski last week and they’re looking for a variety of floor plans, including those with space for a drive-thru. The chain continues to be aggressive with expansion, despite the pandemic. In June, Dave’s opened in Las Vegas. Earlier in the year, it opened in San Diego.
Originally published on chicago.eater.com.
Mini plexi-glass “greenhouses” — one of many safety measures being used in Chicago to help ensure safety amid the pandemic — await restaurant patrons on the corner of Randolph and Peoria. The enclosures are each decked out with tables and chairs during restaurant hours.
The Tandoor mixed grill platter is served at Tandoor Char House.
McDonald’s is the latest business to announce it will mandate masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19 as cases spike.
Dave’s Hot Chicken sandwiches.