After hours of church and a sermon most people need a tasty brunch spot to get their Sunday started right. When the club lets out and students have danced up an appetite they need to satisfy it. Rather than the usual Waffle House or IHOP stop, Gladys Knight and Ron Winans Chicken and Waffles is a soulful substitute.
Large portraits of famous jazz artists, autographed pictures of celebrities and earth tone decorations filled the cozy restaurant. Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye lulled in the background as people waited patiently to be seated.
Althea Sloan, a single mother of two was looking through the “House Rules” on the menu and deciding whether or not to get the “Midnight Train.” When Sloan lived in Atlanta, she made a point of getting Gladys Knight’s chicken and waffles weekly. “I’m thrilled they just put one here in Maryland because it reminds me of home,” she said.
The waiters were asking customers if they would like to begin with an “Opening Act,” or appetizer, like the Catfish Basket or Sweet Potato Sticks. Menu categories were appropriately titled with music themes: “Grammy Winners,” “Solo Acts,” and “Backstage Numbers.”
Charles DeWitt, a junior English major at Bowie State and his friends often swing by after the club since the restaurant closes at four in the morning. He likes the vibe and the diverse menu. “Instead of just being in Maryland and the original in Atlanta, it should be nationwide. Black people would be coming in crowds, for sure,” DeWitt said.
Ange Thompson, a senior broadcast major at Howard University wasn’t expecting anything outstanding from her first visit. “I was thinking I’d get regular chicken and waffles but the seasoning is excellent. The menu is pretty extensive and there are a lot of choices,” Thompson said as she sipped her “Uptown,” a blend of lemonade and ice tea.
Though new restaurants and trendy spots pop up all the time, there is nothing new about a hot plate of Southern cooking. With this eatery Gladys Knight and Ron Winans keep their musical legacy alive, as well as the rich traditions behind soul food. Your belly will sing your praises after your plate is cleaned.