Daddy Rich's chicken wings opens at Chef Space
New west Louisville restaurant hopes to fly on chicken wings
For the next four months, west Louisville has a new wings restaurant. After that, a ramen noodle concept may take its place.
The changing tastes come with the business model inside Chef Space, a kitchen incubator, on Muhammad Ali Boulevard at 18th Street in the Russell neighborhood.
One year into its west Louisville mission, Chef Space aims to bring more restaurants and jobs to surrounding lower income neighborhoods. It's business incubator concept, Jay's 120, allows members to test their concepts by using its kitchen and retail space for 120 days.
From the Jay's 120 kitchen and dining room area, the first new restaurant to launch is Daddy Rich's.
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Eight lemon pepper Buffalo wings deliver a spicy tang in a $10 combo plate with sweet cornbread griddlecake and a side.
"It's an unorthodox taste. It's not just a buffalo wing. Once you taste it ... I've had people assume I am putting drugs in the sauce," Daddy Rich's co-owner Brian Allen said.
Since August, Daddy Rich's has catered chicken wings, chicken tenders, waffles, wraps and sides from the commercial kitchens inside Chef Space. Like other budding food businesses, they pay one monthly fee to access the kitchens and build the enterprise.
Since Jan. 2, the trio behind Daddy Rich's has been operating a restaurant from the steam tables and dining area out front. Another top seller is five honey sriracha wings alongside a cinnamon sugar waffle for $7.
During four months serving walk-in customers, Daddy Rich's will be measuring cash flow, testing menu items, analyzing profitability and polling customers for suitable brick-and-mortar locations where they might settle for good in west Louisville.
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Daddy Rich's co-owner Rodrick Martin, 32, has been a fan of chicken wings since childhood. He created Daddy Rich's because he wanted to create a neighborhood restaurant "where the food is good, the customer service is great and you want to come back."
As Martin refines the business model with partners Brian Allen and Prince Peterson, the three aim to crack the market for urban appetites. Buffalo wings offer a food familiar to the neighborhood but no one in west Louisville "has ever built a concept around it," Martin said.
In west Louisville, market research reveals just 30 restaurants for a population of roughly 61,000 people, said Chef Space President Christopher Lavenson. In contrast, east Louisville boasts 255 restaurants for a population of about 68,000 people, he said.
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Customers to Jays 120 will be polled on where in west Louisville a concept like Daddy Rich's might succeed, Lavenson said.
"We will know by day 90 if we've got a pony or not," Lavenson said. "They are either going to make it or they are not."
Located in a "food desert," defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a neighborhood where access to groceries and sit-down restaurants is scarce, Chef Space aims to close the gap by helping entrepreneurs with site selection, access to capital and business coaching. Jay's 120 is run by nonprofit Community Ventures Corp.
For the second restaurant concept to debut in April, Chef Space is accepting applications for noodle concepts "because ramen noodles are something that sits in everyone's cupboard," Lavenson said.
Jere Downs can be reached at (502) 582-4669, JDowns@Courier-Journal.com and Jere Downs on Facebook.
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IF YOU GO
WHAT: Daddy Rich's
WHERE: 1812 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard
WHEN: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday
MORE INFORMATION: For the best service, order 30 minutes ahead. For more information, call 502-936-4432, or check out the website at daddyrichstogo.com. You can also follow Daddy Rich's on Facebook or on Instagram at daddy_richs.