Welcome to Dame’s “Almost” World Famous Chicken & Waffles
Southern Fried Perfection Meets Sweet European Decadence
(Photograph: Founders of Dame’s Chicken and Waffles, Dame and Randy )
The Origin of Chicken & Waffles
The history of “Chicken & Waffles” is a bit hazy and unclear, to say the least. Various stories involving Thomas Jefferson, the Pennsylvania Dutch, and Southern slaves have contributed to the enigmatic origins of this unique combination. While many individuals lay claim to inventing or inspiring it, there are undeniable facts about the history of chicken & waffles.
First and foremost, chicken & waffles gained popularity during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s to 1940s. This era witnessed a surge of artistic creativity, with Harlem, New York emerging as a hub for music, visual art, dance, and various forms of creative expression. Artists from diverse backgrounds flocked to Harlem to establish their presence in the artistic world during this vibrant period.
The Harlem Renaissance sparked the growth and spread of jazz music across the United States, and Harlem played a central role in this transformation. Prominent venues like the Cotton Club and The Savoy Ballroom turned Harlem into a hot spot for music and entertainment. Jazz orchestras and swing bands regularly included Harlem in their tour schedules. Renowned musicians such as William “Count” Basie, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and the legendary Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, all had ties to Harlem during this Renaissance.
With Harlem’s music scene flourishing, concerts and parties often extended late into the night and early morning hours. Consequently, several restaurants in the area stayed open late to cater to the bands and revelers after shows and parties.
One particular restaurant, a family-owned establishment known as Wells Supper Club, seized the opportunity to offer late-night dining. Wells was already renowned for its Southern-inspired menu and had long been a staple of Harlem’s food scene.
Wells Supper Club served breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As dinner service typically concluded around 11 pm to 12 am, the restaurant often had leftover fried chicken from the evening. Recognizing a chance to boost sales and minimize food waste, Wells began offering a late-night/early-morning menu featuring their savory fried chicken paired with delectably sweet waffles. This combination quickly became a sensation and inspired other restaurants to offer the same pairing. Thus, this marked the inception of chicken & waffles’ popularity, a tradition that continues to thrive to this day.
So, when you visit us at Dame’s “Almost” World Famous Chicken & Waffles, you’ll understand the inspirations behind our culinary delights. Our establishment embodies a love for food and music, with a tribute to jazz evident through our music and artwork. Whether it’s bee-bop, swing, classical, or contemporary, jazz finds a home at Dame’s—a home where the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance is palpable.
Now you know the story! While we didn’t invent Chicken & Waffles, we aim to be the first name that comes to mind when you crave this delectable combination, through our unique approach and dedication to reviving this culinary tradition.
Damion “Dame” Moore