Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gladys Knight's Chicken & Waffles - Atlanta

During a visit to Martin Luther King's birth home in Atlanta, Georgia, the park ranger giving the tour described King's favorite foods as cornbread and collared greens. It was approaching lunch time and the circumstances got us craving some good Southern comfort food. A first glade class of black kids from the Atlanta area was on the tour so we asked one of the teachers where we could find some good cornbread and collared greens for lunch. The teacher suggested Gladys Knight's Chicken and Waffles, a fun connection for us as Gladys Knight is a member of the LDS Church and we'd heard that she had a restaurant in Atlanta. Signs for fried chicken and waffles are everywhere in the south, so this was also a great opportunity to try those Southern staples as well.  

A sign inside the restaurant.
I'm still a little confused about the name of the restaurant. I've seen it as Gladys Night's Chicken & Waffles, Gladys Knight's Signature Chicken & Waffles, Gladys Knight and Ron Winan's Chicken & Waffles, Gladys & Ron's Chicken & Waffles and Gladys and Ron's. Shanga Hankerson, the son of Gladys, apparently got the idea to start the restaurant and enlisted Gladys and Ron to go in with him. They now have a group of about six restaurants and I'm not sure if some of the restaurants have different names which causes some of the confusion?

Gladys Knight, of course, known as "the Empress of Soul," is an R&B singer-songwriter and seven time Grammy Award winner. Her hits include "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" and "Midnight Train to Georgia." Ron Winans is also a Grammy Award winning soul singer. Apparently the concept of chicken and waffles together was first used in the 1930s at the Wells Supper Club in Harlem, near the Apollo and Savoy Theaters. After a show musicians would come in late and could not decide whether they wanted dinner or breakfast, so they got both. Shanga Hankerson has noted that his father lived in Harlem near the Wells Supper Club and his mother was one of those musicians who would visit the restaurant. Eating waffles and chicken together was part of his growing up. 

The atmosphere is fun. The music of Gladys plays in the background and  pictures of Gladys, Ron and other musicians adorn the beautiful dark wood walls. 
Poor picture, but it does give a feel for the dark wood walls and decor.
Judy ordered a sampler plate of collared greens, black-eyed peas, corn and cheese n' grits, complete with a cornbread muffin. The muffin was nice and sweet and I loved the collared greens, they were very soggy and salty. The black-eyed peas were a little too firm for my taste and the corn was okay, but tasted like it came out of a can. The grits were great.
I got a plate with three fried chicken thighs, sweet yellow squash, corn and a cornbread muffin. I also ordered a side waffle just to see what it was like. I was not impressed with the waffle. They only provided room temperature syrup and the waffle was too undercooked for me. On the other hand, Judy really liked the waffle and thought it one of the best she's ever had. The fried chicken has a very crisp coating which covers some nice moist dark meat underneath. They provided some Louisiana pepper sauce and green hot pepper sauce which I've never tried on chicken before. I decided I was in the south and needed to do it like the southerner's do, so I sprinkled the hot sauce liberally on the chicken and quite enjoyed it. The yellow squash was very sweet and soggy. I don't mind the soggy, but it was a little too sweet for me. It was not a great meal, but for what we were hungry for and other considerations it satisfied a number of wants. However, later in the trip, in Gainesville, Florida, we ate at a Waffle House, a chain we saw all over the South. If that was the standard, Glady's Knight's would be Chez Panisse.  


  1. Mmmmm....loved the collard greens and grits, and that sweet, soft waffle was delicious.

  2. That waffle looks suspiciously like eggo waffles my grandkids are so fond of.