By Lenore T. Adkins, Special to the AFRO
Two brothers from Baltimore are giving people a taste of their chicken and waffles in Washington, D.C. — thanks to a six-week pop-up engagement that’s got them serving up breakfast bites at the famed Watergate Hotel.
Khari and Shawn Parker own the critically acclaimed Connie’s Chicken and Waffles, a Baltimore chain situated inside the city’s Charles Plaza Food Court and Lexington Market.
Their popular chicken tenders and red-velvet waffles drizzled in maple syrup are featured at Kingbird, a chic restaurant inside Watergate Hotel. The Parker brothers are the only African Americans on the breakfast lineup.
“It’s such an honor to be listed by the Watergate because we started out with a small mission — that everybody leaves better than when they came in,” said Khari Parker, 37, noting the hotel’s place in American history.
“I never would have thought that we would be featured in this capacity, so it’s very exciting,” added Shawn Parker, 33.
The hotel launched a special breakfast menu, Sept. 26, dubbed the “Best Breakfast in America,” that serves up three other “signature” dishes from around the country; Ricotta beignets slathered in seasonal jam from Dusek’s in Chicago, Texas hash from Paperboy in Austin and an egg sandwich from Blue Collar in Miami.
“With the launch of this limited-time initiative, we are adding exclusive items to the Watergate Hotel’s breakfast menu to highlight some of the country’s best breakfast hotspots,” Kingbird Chef Noah Poses said in a statement. “We found unique restaurants across the U.S. and had them choose their most well-known dishes to add versatility to our new menu and establish the hotel as the ultimate breakfast in town.”
Rather than preparing the items onsite themselves, the brothers gave the recipe to Poses and entrusted him to work his magic every morning.
“We feel like the recipe is in great hands now,” Khari Parker said.
The brothers named their fast-casual eatery after their mother, Connie Parker, who they said was always whipping up something delicious in the kitchen when they were growing up — Connie is born out of their desire to primarily focus on chicken and waffles.
“That’s the one thing that we don’t find in a fast-casual environment; there are burger places and things like that but there’s practically no fast-casual restaurants that specialize in chicken and waffles,” Shawn Parker said.
The brothers launched the eatery in June 2016 at the Lexington Market before expanding to the Charles Plaza Food Court almost a year ago.
Though their offerings at Kingbird are limited, the brothers serve up a wide range of meat and waffle combinations in Baltimore, including cinnamon, blueberry and Oreo waffles. Meat options include whole wings, shrimp and fish.
Shrimp baskets, Po’ Boy sandwiches and chicken boxes round out the menu in Baltimore. When Kingbird reached out to the Parker brothers, the men saw it as an opportunity to dip their toe into the burgeoning D.C. breakfast scene — they’d eventually like to open a location here. And beyond.
“We want to serve our customers,” Khari Parker said. “Hopefully they’ll tell a friend and we’ll grow that way and maybe become the next McDonalds.”