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 origin of “Chicken & Waffles” is a bit sketchy and distorted, to say the least. Stories of Thomas Jefferson, the Pennsylvania Dutch and Southern slaves have all contributed to the mystery and lore of the beginnings of chicken & waffles. Although many lay claim to having invented and inspired this combination, there are some facts about the history of chicken & waffles that are undeniable.
First and foremost, chicken & waffles gained notoriety during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s-40’s. It was during this era that an explosion of artistic creativity was taking place. Harlem, New York became the mecca of music, visual art, dance and most genres of creative forms of expressions. Artists of all types and all walks of life were making their way to Harlem to “make it” and lay claim to their piece of the artistic world at that time.
As a result of this renaissance, jazz music began to grow and spread throughout the United States. No other area in the country witnessed this transformation more than Harlem. With major venues like the Cotton Club and The Savoy Ballroom, Harlem quickly became a hot spot for music and entertainment. Jazz orchestras and swing bands routinely made Harlem a mainstay on their tour schedules. Musical masters, such as William “Count” Basie, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and the legendary Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, called Harlem home at some point during the Renaissance.
With the Harlem music scene quickly becoming the place to be, it was not uncommon for the concerts and parties at that time to last until the late hours of the evening and early morning. It was this phenomenon that caused several restaurants in the area to stay open late to accommodate the bands and party-goers after the shows and parties.
One restaurant specifically, a family-owned establishment known as Wells Supper Club, began to offer late night food services. Wells was already known for its great Southern-inspired menu and had been a cornerstone of the Harlem food scene from the beginning.
Wells Supper Club offered breakfast, lunch and dinner. With dinner service typically ending around 11pm – 12 am, Wells would often have fried chicken leftover from the dinner service. Seeing an opportunity to boost sales and reduce food waste, Wells started offering a late night/early morning menu featuring their savory fried chicken paired with a deliciously sweet waffle. The combination quickly became a hit and inspired other restaurants to offer the pairing as well. Suffice it to say that THIS was the beginning of the chicken & waffles popularity that we experience to this very day.
So when you visit us at Dame’s “Almost” World Famous Chicken & Waffles, you’ll know where we got our inspirations. Here, it’s all about the love of the food and love of the music that inspired the food. When you enter our home, you’ll immediately notice our tribute to jazz in the form of music and art. Whether it’s bee-bop, swing, classical or new school contemporary, Jazz has a home at Dame’s….a home where the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance has surely been summoned.
Soooo. . . NOW you know! We didn’t invent Chicken & Waffles; but through our resurrection we want to be the only ones you think of when you get that craving.
Damion “Dame” Moore