Like other pundits, Food & Wine magazine's Kate Krader recently named chicken as one of the top trends for 2013, citing Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere’s Bantam and Biddy as an example. Though Doty admits Bantam and Biddy is a work in progress, he and Gummere are riding the wave and already have another chicken spot in the works: Chick-a-Biddy is scheduled to open in April or May in Atlantic Station. Below, Doty gives us details on Chick-a-Biddy's menu style, who he's hired to help run the kitchen, and what the atmosphere will be like.
Not too long ago, you changed the format of Bantam and Biddy from quick-serve to table-service. Will Chick-a-Biddy have table service, too?
We made a mistake doing counter service at Bantam and Biddy. I realized we really need waiters and table service, so Chick-a-Biddy will be table service, too.
How will the menu at Chick-a-Biddy be different from the one at Bantam and Biddy?
It will be the same price point as Bantam and Biddy. We’ll have grilled chicken, fried chicken, some cool salads, and interesting appetizers. We haven’t really fleshed it out yet, but it will focus on classics with really good ingredients. We might serve half of a wood-grilled chicken with a broccoli casserole and some more traditional sides, like hand-cut sweet potato fries. It’s taking a fast-casual restaurant, keeping it simple, and making it better quality. At Bantam and Biddy, we have some esoteric dishes like arancini (risotto balls), but we won’t have that at Chick-a-Biddy.
We are going to do some really cool cocktails. I’m so excited about the response to the beverage component at Bantam and Biddy. General manager Kristen Childers did a phenomenal job with the cocktails. At Chick-a-Biddy, we want to so something similar, yet be creative.
Tell me about the atmosphere.
Atlantic Station has a different energy and audience than Ansley. It’s more engineered to people going to the movies, shopping at H&M, and spending the evening there. We want Chick-a-Biddy to be in the mix with something fresh; good quality food, simple, and art-driven. It will be bright, shiny, airy, and illuminated. Chick-a-Biddy embraces graphic design, music, and energy. It’s being designed by the Johnson Studio as a whimsical, modern diner, and I’m having a well-known DJ help me figure out the music and really realize my idea. It’s a holistic approach to creating an uplifting experience.
How will you merge your cooking style with that of Lance at Chick-a-Biddy?
Now that we have the experience working together at Bantam and Biddy, it will be easier to do so at Chick-a-Biddy. It’s all about economies of scale. I usually say if you can make something with three ingredients, then that’s the best. Lance would like to make it with ten ingredients for the complexity of flavors. We bumped heads in a friendly way about that. It’s a stylistic difference—a difference in philosophy—but both are equally valid. The result of us working through this at Bantam and Biddy will be a collaborative, streamlined process for Chick-a-Biddy.
How will the continuous changes at Bantam and Biddy affect Chick-a-Biddy, given that Chick-a-Biddy is supposed to be the little sister restaurant?
I own the business, so I can do whatever I want. I’m not a chain restaurant; I’m a chef-driven independent business. If I want to do table service, boom. If I want to do something else, boom. We are going to continue to tweak Bantam and Biddy as an esoteric chef-driven place. Chick-a-Biddy will be more fully formed because I have more of a clear vision of what it needs to be: simple without being simplistic. It will be more of an ironclad product.
How will you split time between all of your restaurants?
There’s a lot to do at the top level. Lance is the chef de cuisine. He’s going to split his time. I’ll be doing administration. That doesn’t mean I won't be wearing a chef jacket ever, but that’s our division of labor. He’s going to be running the restaurants at the ground level. We have a great partnership. I have a new guy who worked at Marlow’s Tavern—Scott Weaver—who will be a chef at Chick-a-Biddy. He's training at Bantam and Biddy now.