Chef Todd Richards, cookbook author and co-owner of recently opened Lake & Oak Neighborhood BBQ, is leaving Richards’ Southern Fried; the Krog Street Market restaurant stall where he’s served Nashville-style hot chicken since 2016. But Richards isn’t going far, as he plans to open a new restaurant stall there next month called Soul: Food & Culture, inspired by his award-winning cookbook “Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes”.
Richards is also celebrating the launch of his new podcast “Soul” by Todd Richards on the Heritage Radio Network. In the first three episodes, Richards interviews his Lake & Oak and the Soulful Company restaurant group partner chef Joshua Lee and James Beard award winning chef Mashama Bailey of The Grey in Savannah.
“I spent a long part of my career making a lot of money for others, and others controlled my destiny,” Richards tells Eater. “This is probably the first time I’ve had my destiny in my own hands. It’s a challenge. It definitely gives you some sleepless nights. But the reward I’m counting on at the end is what’s most important.”
Renovations at Soul are already underway, and a liquor license is currently in the works for the Soulful Company-backed stall to serve craft beers from local and Georgia breweries like Creature Comforts and Savannah River Brewing Company.
The menu for the stall features a lineup of soul food dishes, including a hot fried catfish sandwich, a choice of either chicken or catfish and waffles, and four distinct fried chicken sandwiches, ranging from crispy fried and spicy Buffalo, to a sandwich topped with pimento cheese and Benton’s bacon. Salmon croquettes and an open-faced chicken biscuit should be featured on the brunch menu at Soul.
Wings at Soul come in multiples of six (up to 24) tossed in one of several sauces, like hot honey, Buffalo, and lemon pepper. For the latter, Richards is still looking for a vendor who can source the right dehydrated lemons, because he won’t entertain the thought of using the store-bought spice.
“The flavors are different because of the way we’re applying spices. In the brine before, we used a lot of dry ingredients. Now we’re using fresh onions, garlic and jalapeños,” he says. “It’s a little bit different than the dry. And we changed the entire flouring process. It’s still gluten-free, but super-crispy — different than ever before.”
Don’t expect Soul to skimp on the sides either. Brussels sprout slaw, smoked chicken collards, herbed potato wedges, and mac and three cheeses are planned for the opening menu in November.
Both Richards and Lee worked together at Chicken + Beer in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Richards’ Southern Fried, and have spent the last few weeks perfecting the recipes for Soul. “These recipes are different from anything we’ve done before. I honestly believe it’s the best we’ve ever done.”
The chefs are using their East Lake barbecue restaurant to introduce people to the menu at the new Krog Street Market stall. On Tuesday, October 20, Richards and Lee are giving away 100 free chicken sandwiches at Lake & Oak, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., to help promote Soul’s opening next month. People can also grab Soul dishes every Saturday through November 14 at Lake & Oak, part of the restaurant’s “After Dark” series which runs on Friday and Saturday evenings, starting at 5 p.m. Richards says the goal is to eventually open multiple Soul locations or even offer franchises.
“I didn’t write a soul food cookbook to talk about the past, I wrote it to talk about the present and future of Black food,” explains Richards of the impetus behind the Krog Street Market stall. “We want to tell our story in modern ways of food and culture. We’re not just going to be a classic soul food place. We’re going to be contemporary, and maybe the future of soul food places.”
Take a look at the menu for Soul: Food & Culture: