L.A. chain Dave’s Hot Chicken to open 10 area lo­ca­tions

Chicago Sun-Times - - TASTE - Orig­i­nally pub­lished on chicago.eater.com.

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.

AN­THONY VAZQUEZ/SUN-TIMES

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.

BARRY BRECHEISEN

The Tan­door mixed grill plat­ter is served at Tan­door Char House.

AP

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

Dave’s Hot Chicken sand­wiches.

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