Is Soul Daddy America's Next Great Restaurant? We ate at the new MOA outpost to find out

Categories: Celebrity Dish
Woods Soul Daddy.png
Soul Daddy
Jamawn Woods pitching his restaurant concept.
The final episode of NBC's "America's Next Great Restaurant" aired last night, showing Jamawn Woods of Soul Daddy beating out meatballs (Brooklyn Meatball Co.) and Indian food (Spice Coast) to have his concept realized. An unemployed father of three and self-taught cook, Woods went from selling his wings and waffles out of his home to becoming an owner-operator of a three-restaurant chain.

Those restaurants--at South Street Seaport in New York City, the Hollywood & HIghland Center in Los Angeles, and the Mall of America in Bloomington--opened today. The Hot Dish hit the MOA location (#344 South, third floor between Tony Roma's and Noodles) to check out Wood's "lighter" approach to traditional soul. Here's what we found:

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Soul Daddy exterior, with faux patio seating.
Fans lined up dozens deep outside Soul Daddy before its doors opened at 11 a.m., calling friends and posting Facebook statuses as they waited. A woman from Illinois desperately seeking a Soul Daddy t-shirt left her contact information with the manager in the hopes of purchasing one later.
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Lining up at the Soul Daddy counter.
Soul Daddy's first impression is of being a Southern-style Chipotle, due to some combination of its interior design, cafeteria-line service, and rustic menu font. The interior has an urban/industrial aesthetic (concrete floors, utilitarian lighting, long wooden tabletops), but it's chic and welcoming.
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Fans commemorating their meals with camera phone snaps.
The restaurant offers a simple menu of entrees and sides served a la carte, or as a full meal (entree with two sides and bread) priced around $10. Entrees include country-style ribs, baked herb chicken (Woods's healthier alternative to his original fried chicken), roasted pork, and pulled pork sandwiches. Sides include the traditional collard greens and cheese grits, plus several salads, including black-eyed pea, sweet potato, and green beans. The biscuits are made with whole wheat flour and the cornbread comes in waffle form. And, of course, there's the southern staple, sweet tea, on tap.


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72 comments
Jonathanreese12
Jonathanreese12

ate at the resteraunt  and i'm sorry to say it was terrible i'm from Detroit home of real soulfood this place should have never opened in the first place no fried chicken, no macaroni, no candy yams instead was served yams out the can owner was present talked to him he ask for my feed back wanted to tell him how food was he dissapeared a total let down bill came to 30.00 dollars can i get my money back

Wmichael2
Wmichael2

Awesome food! Great atmosphere! Tremendous spot for lunch while shopping. I am wishing the establishment great success. Give it a try!! (FYI - Cornbread Waffles - Melt in your mouth GOOOOOOOOOOD!! And I don't eat bread!!)

Jrworkstation
Jrworkstation

Not impressed. Went to MOA location and tried a dinner plate. Don't like grits.. Corn cake not impressive, biscuit was cold and dry, and pork was nothing different or special. No reason for us to drive 25 miles again.

Lj15
Lj15

My family and I had dinner at the Soul Daddy in New York.  I was excited to be there, but the food was disappointing.  I love the baked chicken but the sweet potato salad wasn't what I expected.  The potatoes were hard and bland.  The col slaw  was delicious but the green beans were cold and they didn't appear to be a green bean salad.  The waffle cornbread with dry but the butter was very tasty and the barbeque sauce was the best.  I guess I thought I was going to get some soul food but instead I got soul food prepare in a way that took away the soul out of the food.  I understand trying something different or maybe even reducing the calories in soul food but this idea didn't work for me.  Maybe try potato salad instead of sweet potato salad and bake beans instead of cold green beans and hot rice with gravy but keep the butter and the sauces.  

Fc2
Fc2

come on, our role in life is to enthusiastically support the sexy black man.

Superpapi
Superpapi

I enjoy both, Brassa plantains and Daddy's corn bread. But, service wise, Daddy's is quick and easy, while Brassa takes forever! I hope Soul Daddy's branches-off and fast

foodiegirl
foodiegirl

I have eaten at the Hollywood and Highland location three times now. I think they still have a few growing pains. They do run out of certain foods at the rush hours. Hopefully they will learn how to gage the pace better. As for the food, I was thinking that the chicken was pretty tasty till today. It was so salty, I am still thirsty! The greens are pretty good, and the wild rice salad is delicious. The black eyed peas are a bit overcooked, but flavorful. Too bad they don't have a way collecting suggestions so they can tweak things. I think that it is a good concept that needs a little work.I do wonder who is running the store while Jamawn is checking in at his other locations? 

skipper
skipper

I just wish the investors would let Jamawn really cook real soul food, if they really would to turn a profit!

Xenajackson
Xenajackson

Uhhh I wish he could open a resturaunt in GA. I've been dying for his food. It looks so good!

Mlrmusic
Mlrmusic

I like Jamawn a lot, but as you could see from the show, the investors heavily influenced the menu and they are not all on the same page. I think that his original menu choices were great, but the judges, some of them, really influenced something else. If I were Jamawn and wanted to win, I would have changed too. It's a sticky situation and I still think they chose the right person. Just like Spic Coast, he went into a totally different direction from when he started. I think you have to blame the investors and not the contestant.

Ladylibra928
Ladylibra928

Everything was gross, there was no soul food here. I personally rooted for this show and was so disappointed in the food that I left and ate somewhere else since I was starving. The decor was bland and needs the purple decor that was the original plan. The investors killed this place, I want chicken and waffles! I want finger lickin good food not this crap. The location is terrible, I couldn't even find it!

How can someone win a show and yet there is no advertising???

I've told everyone I know not to waste their time. This place needs to be brought back to the concept that made it a contender in the first place, 3W!

Whitedogjunk
Whitedogjunk

Not worth the money. The investors entertained us but are ripping off America with sub-par food by an untalented cook(s).

Pdawny
Pdawny

How can woods be held accountable for something he has no control over. If he was able to mysteriously teleport to all of the locations I honestly believe there wouldn't be any complaints. America what all does a man have to do to gain your approval. No one know the true logistics behind this concept and what role woods have in making it the best it can be. You must take in account there are 5 other people who has a bigger say in what Soul Daddy produces.

iluvterriers
iluvterriers

Here is my take; this concept was weak and unoriginal to begin with. Chicken and waffles are nothing new IHOP sells it for heaven's sake. Soul food, like BBQ is better left to regional and local establishments. It doesn't mass market well and the value isn't there. On seeing the show i can agree with others that he was a weak choice and did not have the best concept. Spice Coast would have been the best choice, but the Indian guy didn't cry about all his hardships growing up, he acted like a professional businessman. So much for the concept of winning based on merit. I'll bet the investors are already trying to unload this turkey.

Bootsnstacheva
Bootsnstacheva

Sounds like a very limited menu. It may be a novelty with a limited market. Odd that none of the locations were in the south. He originally started out with waffles and chicken. One day as I pulled into the lot to try Chipotle (wasn't impressed) the IHOP next door was featuring...chicken and waffles. Nonetheless, good luck to him.

Az812
Az812

We wanted to order the pulled pork but it was out and it was only 7 PM. We ended up ordering the rib and chicken meals with collard greens, grits, and the wild rice side dishes. Here is our take. the chicken and the ribs were DRY, the side dishes were bland and the collard greens were unevenly cooked. The portion of the meat was is not worth mentioning. The portion of the side dishes unevenly distributed (they were filled half way on our containers whereas others were to the rim or higher. Bottom line, the only good thing was the sauces and we had plenty to help with the blandness and the dry meat. We were so looking forward to eat at Soul Daddy but it was a BIG disappointment.

Rex
Rex

I am not impressed with this boy's concept. You can get this type of food at a lot of places; cheaper, better tasting & more of it. I suspect that once the novelty wears off (which will be soon) it will fold. I have eaten at a lot of soul food restaurants and the ones that actually cater to coloreds offer a far greater value.

Keshondria_amos03
Keshondria_amos03

Congrats, hard work pays off, those who hate obviously don't know what that is like. So god bless you and your family.

Troll food
Troll food

Even if you're cooking soul food, don't feed the trolls...

Kermit
Kermit

To make it an authentic soul food experience i have a few suggestions: offer malt liquor on the beverage menu, accept food stamps as a payment option, offer blunts for an after dinner smoke for your smoking patrons and lastly train your servers to speak in authentic lingo of the culture like "what you be havin' bitch?"

Refund Please
Refund Please

Food was terrible, gave the leftovers to my cat... R.I.P. Fluffy.

Johnnie Carson Adams
Johnnie Carson Adams

I know what is missing, he needs my help! I am a seasoned Chef with over 20 years under my belt.Soul food,French,Greek,you name it i can cook it1Ti

URstupid
URstupid

Seems pretty average. Nothing is enticing me to go spend money at this place judging by the pictures, quality and quantity. Anything cafeteria styled, industrial lookalike, is playing the marketing game to me. If you want some good soul food head on over to West Indies Soul, for Ribs the best in the twin cities, in my opinion, are 19th Hole and Roosters. The quality and flavor they offer are just amazing. While Brasa is expensive, it's certainly very good too.

technoreaper
technoreaper

This guy is a freaking crybaby who always had a sob story. The guilty rich white liberals bought every one!

I hope he shuts down! He's a freaking thug with a bad attitude anyways!

Jojo
Jojo

why  did he close the one in miami what is going on

Dennis27
Dennis27

he should be held accountable. it was america's next great restraunt remember? it was his concept and it's an average one at best. wasn't it Jamawn who was whining for "just this chance for my kids" well i'm not seeing much effort and the reviews aren't good. if he doesn't want to blow this chance he'd better get to work.

Mjcrouch76
Mjcrouch76

I totally agree with you. I was really looking forward to an american indian blend of relatively quick food. How did the investors come to the conclusion that people would eat soul food multiple days a week?

Jodemba
Jodemba

What make soul food taste so great is all the fats, salts, and sugars.

Nysfinest917
Nysfinest917

The ones that cater to coloreds?Are you a kkk member ?

ok
ok

You are a complete idiot Kermit. I hate how people think they are so intelligent when they are just ignorant racists.

wutup
wutup

or maybe they could say whut you hos be habbin fo lunch

joe
joe

Brasa is expensive??

Mlrmusic
Mlrmusic

you're sad. You must be miserable to make a comment like that.

tnb spotter
tnb spotter

finally the TRUTH is spoken. an affirmative action contest winner if i ever saw one. this place won't even last a year. i quit watching because i was sick of his whining crybaby stories, cry me a river. sounds like typical TNB to me. also typical taking no responsibility and crying to the white man for gibs me dat. i wonder how all those hard luck stories would have gone over if uttered by a white man, of course to be fair they don't have the experience in whining blacks do.

tm
tm

douche

Saikowoods
Saikowoods

And how do you know that? Have u met him before? Its soooo easy to judge someone else's "sob story" when u never had nothin to cry about! #haterswholovetohatesuccess

Bj
Bj

I dont know if you racist or jealous.....hmmm. I will tune in later

Bj
Bj

I dont know if you racist or jealous.....hmmm. I will tune in later

Jojo
Jojo

it really funny that i heard this places have beeen closing back to back one day i was passsin by therestaurant i try to see what is  going on  i think it was totaly arrogant with no customer services

Rex
Rex

You're a stupid idiot. what about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Are they KKK members too because they say colored? There is nothing wrong with calling them coloreds or negroes either for that matter. They are perfectly legitmate and socially acceptable terms for colored people.

wutup
wutup

Explain why if a person is racist that automatically makes them ignorant? There are observable differences between different species of all mammals. You wouldn't take a poodle duck hunting and expect him to retrieve or enter a bloodhound in a dog race. Is Kermit ignorant or just more observant and willing to accept the facts of life more than you? i would say you're the ignorant one, if you don't believe me eat your soulfood in the 'hood and let me know how that works out for you.

Texasota
Texasota

For those of us raised in the South or Texas, yes Brasa is expensive. They are pretty tasty though, with the exception of dry cornbread.

Mlrmusic
Mlrmusic

Welllll, Joey did a good amount of crying himself...lol

sean
sean

all this race shit is pathetic, get a life, I mean honestly....and if you knew your history and facts affirmative action has helped more women, white woman at that, then any other minority so get it together and grow the fuck up......this shit makes me so sad....don't forget why affirmative action came about to begin with, it wouldn't be needed if people did the right thing in hiring to begin with.... You all sound like a bunch of uneducated idiots.

technoreaper
technoreaper

I actually encountered the real Jamawn on a message board out there. He yelled at a lady and I for something he didn't like that was said about him. He sounded like a total moron. This was an official Next Great Restaurant board so his comments got wiped before he totally embarrassed himself. I can't believe the judges fell for his garbage. It just tells you what sort of places they come from. Some people are incredibly rich and out of touch with the real world, as hard as it is to believe.

Diamonds216you
Diamonds216you

Ur an asshole to..... I need not waste good vocabulary on u.

Kermit
Kermit

waaaa "muh daddy wuz in prison and we wuz po gibs me a restrant chain yt" waaa

AG
AG

wow. it's attitudes like yours that necessitates the NAACP. get rid of some of that anger, buddy.

Gwennie28
Gwennie28

I agree with 100% Keshondria_amos. It is 2011....time to act like adults and stop playing the race card. What if that was your momma????? 

Confused
Confused

Ha, you're being ironic right? There are far too many grammatical errors and factual mistakes in your post for you to be serious. No one in his right mind would post such ignorant statements and pretend to be anything but. I only hope for humanity's sake that you are being completely facetious or, if you are at all serious, that you have no plans to reproduce.

technoreaper
technoreaper

I have something to add to this conversation, but the PC liberal generation is too stupid to understand it. They actually think they are the smart ones.

Keshondria_amos03
Keshondria_amos03

yea wutup, but being ignorant is not knowing, which he doesn't. Everytime someone of a different race other than white wins something, race is the first thing that comes up. and stereotypes are always used. Well what do you say the next time someone white wins, they're hillbilly, trailer trash, that sleeps with anyone and especially those in the family their addicted to meth, spoiled, airheads, and the rest of the stereotypes that are for white people. would you be happy then are would you get on the defensive cause crazy as it is. white people are jealousy of every other race. their the only race that finds problems and start shit with other races. its sad. both of you are sad.

Jason Dorweiler
Jason Dorweiler

So easy to speak behind that computer screen, because it reads lengths on your kind of personality.

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