The next man to inherit the corner has mad respect for the legacy of soul at MLK and Cherry.
“I ate at Catfish Corner all the time,” Marcus Lalario tells CHS. “To be able to get that spot means more to me than anything else about the new venture.”
Later this year, Lalario will open Fat’s Fried Chicken and Waffles in the space left empty after the much-loved soul food joint suddenly closed last summer following 30 years of fried goodness and a black-owned business at the corner.“With all my spaces, I try to keep a little bit of the past in there,” Lalario said. Expect plenty of Old Seattle nostalgia when Fat’s opens this summer.
You will also find “straightup Southern” with “fried thighs and drumsticks” and, yes, waffles and biscuits from Patrick Dours, “a New Orleans native who has cooked at the Doe Bay and Rosario resorts on Orcas Island,” Seattle Met reports as it broke the news on the new project. Lalario, known for his entrepreneurial nightlife and food and drink investments, said he’s not sure, yet, on whether he’ll pursue a liquor license for Fat’s. By August, Lalario expects Fat’s to be open for dinner hours from around 4 to 9 PM with brunch and then breakfast hours (and “breakfast all the time” options) following.
The news is the second helping of chicken and waffles excitement for the Central District this spring. Earlier this week, CHS reported that Nate’s Wings and Waffles will open near 12th and Jefferson by this fall with a full bar, fried chicken, and eclectic waffles. As we pointed out then, soul isn’t dead, yet, in Seattle despite the closure of the Kingfish Cafe and more. Along with the new waffle joints, Ms. Helen is coming back to 23rd and Union.
Like Darren McGill of Nate’s, Lalario has nothing but good things to say about his former partner. Lalario and McGill had been working on opening Fat’s in Rainier Beach but the project stalled. In came NBA star Nate Robinson as investor and onward went Lalario with his Fat’s concept. It was a more than amiable split with both partners able to move on create their own projects. “We parted ways on good terms,” Lalario said.
The new life for Fat’s is also good news for the real life Fats, who, it turns out, is part of the Catfish Corner family. Lalario says the friend the name and to-be-revealed logo are based on was legitimately bummed when the original plans for Fat’s fell through. Now Fats will get to see the honor become real — at the corner where his uncle was part of Catfish Corner’s three decades of satisfaction.
Lalario, in the meantime, is still pissed off by the way things are playing out with the building home his 95 Slide sports bar at Harvard and Pike. In March, CHS reported on plans to redevelop the corner in the midst of massive development on the block. Lalario has had a lease for the space for nearly 20 years — and he still has three more to go — but he said the writing is on the wall and that he won’t be able to buy the property like he had hoped.
“Capitol Hill is what it is, now,” Lalario said. Earlier in the conversation, he told CHS he was happy to be working on a project closer to where he lives. He also looks forward to being part of the scene at MLK and Cherry, an area on the edge of the rapid development on Capitol Hill and in areas like 23rd and Union.
“It’s definitely got more of a vibe — less of these cute taco restaurants. No tap houses,” Lalario said. “I want to keep the soul.”
Fat’s Fried Chicken and Waffles will open at 2726 E Cherry later this summer.