Cafe Society

Soul Daddy, America's Next Great Restaurant winner, closes NYC and Los Angeles locations

If you were hoping America's Next Great Restaurant winner, Soul Daddy, would eventually start hawking its healthy soul food in Denver, don't hold your breath.

Despite the credentials of the panel of investors -- Steve Ells, Chipotle's founder and CEO, Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone and Lorena Garcia -- who selected the concept because, presumably, it had the most potential to spawn a mega-chain, Soul Daddy is off to a rocky start: The New York City and Los Angeles locations have both closed.

Jamawn Woods is the would-be restaurateur who came up with the concept, and just over a month ago, Ells and his cohorts gave the Detroit resident the opportunity to open three Soul Daddy restaurants in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York.

But even the blessing of those industry stalwarts wasn't enough to give Woods the momentum to run three locations in three different cities: The company explained that multiple outposts presented difficulties, and it needed to dial in its focus for a better chance of success.

Which you'd think, maybe, that expert panel could have warned Woods about, since every single one of them launched a career by excelling in one restaurant first -- and then building from there.

Here's hoping Ells's own new project, ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, which is opening one location in Washington, D.C., this fall, fares better.

Follow @CafeWestword on Twitter

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk