By Frier McCollister
Pasadena Weekly Contributing Author
Daddy’s Hen Shack is uncomplicated to overlook but not so uncomplicated to forget.
“Downhome, casual,” is how owner and chef, Rate Webb explained her eatery. “No presentation, no fuss. Gap-in-the-wall is the intention here.”
All-around the corner from Fair Oaks on Dayton Street, it is not an actual shack but the front-of-residence place is all of 100 sq. ft.
“We opened November 2018. It’s actually the smallest cafe in Pasadena.”
Webb’s system proved prosperous virtually promptly, as her personalized fried rooster sandwiches pushed the restaurant by way of the pandemic.
Webb will come from 3 generations of Texan hostesses, who presented the spark of inspiration for her culinary desires.
“I come from a lengthy line of females who love to entertain,” Webb reported. “I have a terrific-grandmother, a grandmother and a mom who just genuinely really like to host and convey folks collectively. There is definitely an art to it. Growing up I took it for granted that absolutely everyone understood how to throw a fantastic collecting of any dimension.”
Webb’s mom was a theater actress, who continued to stoke the family’s tradition of hospitality.
“Opening night time functions were being always at our dwelling,” Webb reported. “She often experienced that touch to throw a dimmer on the lights, or set the ideal samba music on. But very little was at any time incredibly cherished. The ambiance was truly just people today coming together to have a excellent time.
“I had this instant as a teen, when I looked close to at just one of the parties. I considered, ‘I want to be on this facet of the party as opposed to just a visitor. I want to host.’ (But) I did not believe that was actually a career.”
A bout with colon cancer as a senior in significant university set Webb on a route to a more healthy way of living, which coincided with her affinity for hospitality.
“That received me on a very extended journey with food and overall health and life style,” she explained. “The fascination in overall health advanced into just eating the most effective top quality entire foodstuff above joyful occasions. It advanced into, ‘Let’s celebrate the most effective beef that there is, the most effective pork that there is, the best seasonal greens that there are.’ It just transpired to marry with people today gathering in excess of foods.”
Arriving in Southern California in 2006, Webb was doubtful of exactly where to choose her culinary inspirations.
“As a youngster striving to figure out what I wished to do culinarily, I had tiny way. I was operating 3 careers at the time: at a bakery aiding at the culinary faculty staging at dining places. Hoping to determine out, what do I want to do?”
A series of casual catering work opportunities snowballed properly. “People would question me, ‘Could I cater this celebration, could I cater that party.’ It took on a existence of its possess and developed into a little something very obviously with my catering enterprise.”
That catering small business — Flavor of Speed — shortly turned quite active, serving “regional Italian by way of California.” In 2014, a significant movie star-driven event led to an invitation to cater a more compact everyday occasion with a menu of tacos and sliders. It would establish providential.
“This fried hen sandwich sounded truly very good with Thai-style slaw, sriracha mayo, buttermilk fried chicken, brioche bun. What could potentially go completely wrong? It’ll be great. I didn’t even exam it.”
The sandwich was a hit.
“People were freaking out about the fried hen sliders. That evening, my sous chef and I (said), ‘Maybe we have a thing below. Would not it be entertaining to just serve individuals fried rooster sandwiches?’ Just aim on a person thing and do it truly, seriously nicely.”
A speak with her father sealed the offer.
“I identified as my father the upcoming day,” she reported. “‘What do you feel? It could be your retirement prepare and we could simply call it Daddy’s.’ Daddy’s Hen Shack has a genuinely sweet ring to it. So, we put together a business enterprise prepare for it.”
It was not until eventually Webb fulfilled her spouse, Chris Georgalas, a 12 months afterwards, that the strategy genuinely took off. Launching the strategy as a just one-off pop-up Downtown, Webb’s recipe once more proved alone.
“It was amazing. It was so busy and so productive.” The achievements of the pop-up led the few to a standard existence at Smorgasburg, the well known weekly Sunday food reasonable Downtown.
In the meantime, Georgalas was on a mission to uncover a everlasting household for the strategy and quickly landed on Dayton Avenue in Pasadena.
“He found this place on his third try out. We went to go see it. It was inexperienced lights all the way all around, serendipitous, a meant-to-be circumstance.”
However, as Webb mentioned, “It’s a person point to discover the place. It’s an additional to open the doors and remain in enterprise.”
The simple menu and relaxed accessibility swiftly proved to be common and sustainable.
Fried rooster sandwiches are the spot here, even though there are convincing vegan options as very well. The recipe has not improved a lot. The clean hen is brined in buttermilk overnight before double dredging and frying, all served on a brioche bun with napa slaw and sriracha mayonnaise. The Big Daddy ($12) and the Spicy Daddy ($12) entrance the menu. There is also the choice of a few Minor Daddy sliders ($12) as well as popcorn rooster ($12).
The Vegan Daddy ($13) and the Vegan Daddy Nuggets ($9) are composed of fried cauliflower brined in curried coconut milk and served with sambal mayo, cilantro and mint. The nuggets are served with a scattering of salted lime peanuts.
On a random Monday afternoon, a new customer, Edwina Daniel, arrived to purchase the vegan nuggets acquiring sampled them at a little bash the working day in advance of.
“It was so mouth watering,” she reported. “I arrived around right here now to get some.” If the vegan nuggets draw this interest, the fried rooster sandwich is definitely well worth a check out.
That mentioned there are also breakfast alternatives, served all working day: two Southern Daddy biscuit sammies ($10) the renowned breakfast burrito ($11) or the Mornin’ Daddy breakfast sando ($10).
For the reason that Webb’s product was by now perfectly-intended for takeout and delivery, no difficult pivots have been required when the pandemic lockdown came last March. As basic manager Brooke Saul observed, “It’s truly gotten busier. We were being already on these (shipping) apps. We noticed these numbers skyrocket. We were being ready to go.”
Having said that, with Smorgasburg shut, that earnings stream evaporated, and Webb engaged with the city’s Terrific Plates software to present foods for front-line workers and homebound elders.
“It definitely aided our catering enterprise to remain afloat,” Webb stated. “It felt great to be serving to other people today. It felt heroic. It was a definitely great application.”
Webb and Georgalas stay 6 blocks absent from the “shack” with their 2-year-aged daughter, Asa, and share a yard with his brother’s family members. It’s all downhome listed here.
“I just enjoy to feed people today definitely delightful food stuff,” Webb reported. “It’s my enjoy language. My food stuff is a heat hug.”