When restaurateur John Stehling wrestled with his sons, the loser was forced to say “King Daddy Master of Power.” Hence the inspiration for John and Julie Stehling’s new venture: King Daddy’s, their spin on a chicken-and-waffle restaurant.
The owners of Early Girl Eatery have been planning a second restaurant for two years now but have had a hard time finding a location. “We looked a lot and looked at other spaces that probably would have worked too,” John says, “but we live down on South French Broad, so we wanted it to be as close as possible to the house.”
The 444 Haywood Road location, in the same building as Second Gear, offers parking and will soon have an outdoor seating area. “The physical space is great, and it feels like a restaurant, like us,” Julie says. “It’s the right size, about 2,100 square feet.”
The Stehlings will be hands-on at King Daddy’s, as they have been at Early Girl. “Clint Thorman, one of our original managers from Early Girl who went on to work at Prune in New York, will manage the front of the house,” John says. “Joseph Welch, one of my two managers at Early Girl, will run back of the house with us. So yes, we will be running both restaurants, but it’s not just us.”
Although King Daddy will use local produce and cheeses, John says, “The chicken is the hard part.” No local chicken farmers currently offer wholesale, so the Stehlings will use Joyce Farms in Winston-Salem, as well as Springer Mountain Farms in Georgia, both of which are Certified Humane. They plan to feature chicken from local farms like Hickory Nut Gap Farm on occasion.
King Daddy will also offer vegetarian choices, including a beet burger served open-faced on a waffle. “We will have a grilled chicken choice and salads on the menu,” Julie says. “You can make it really decadent or not so decadent. You can do a gluten-free waffle with full fried chicken, so mix and match.”
But if you’re not sure what the chicken-and-waffles thing is all about, not to worry. “The first 10 times I went in a chicken-and-waffle place, I didn’t know what to do,” John says, “and then I realized nobody knows what to do, so you just do whatever you want.”
Starting Feb. 1, King Daddy’s will begin serving lunch and dinner, with small plates for later evening and a full bar.
King Daddy’s will be at 444 Haywood Road.