From Laundry Day to Delicious Days: Bonafried Fried Chicken Takes Root in New Orleans

As the vibrant sounds of Jazz Fest return to New Orleans this weekend, a metamorphosis is underway just off Esplanade Avenue. A familiar landmark, the Splish Splash Washateria, has bid farewell to suds and dryers, making way for something far more mouthwatering: Bonafried, the beloved food truck renowned for its irresistible fried chicken sandwiches.

A Wash of Opportunity

The long-time owners of the Washateria, streamlining their operations, decided to consolidate their laundry business. This serendipitous closure presented a golden opportunity for Bonafried's founders, Stephen Maher and Rebecca Elizabeth Hollingsworth. A family member of the Washateria owners approached them, and a brick-and-mortar dream began to take shape.

Joining the Culinary Quartet

The new Bonafried restaurant will take its place amidst a thriving cluster of neighborhood eateries, just blocks away from the iconic Fair Grounds Race Course, a popular Jazz Fest destination. "Our goal," says Maher, "is to be up and running by next Jazz Fest, welcoming festival goers and locals alike."

A Cosy Nest for Fried Chicken Bliss

Currently in the design phase, the restaurant will be a cozy haven for fried chicken aficionados, offering around 40 seats. Diners can expect a welcoming atmosphere perfect for savoring Bonafried's culinary creations. Plans include applying for a limited alcohol license to offer a curated selection of bottled, canned, and possibly frozen beverages, complementing the star of the show – the fried chicken.

A Menu Mirroring Mobile Marvels

Fans of the Bonafried food truck can rejoice – the restaurant's menu will faithfully mirror the winning formula that has garnered them loyal fans. "Everything's fried," laughs Maher, "it's right there in the name! We'll essentially have a line of fryers in the kitchen, churning out our signature dishes."

From Pop-Up to Powerhouse

Bonafried's journey began a decade ago as a pop-up operation, tantalizing taste buds with their take on fried chicken. In 2016, their passion for crispy perfection materialized in the form of a converted bread delivery truck, officially joining the ranks of New Orleans' vibrant mobile food scene. Their dedication paid off in 2022, with Bonafried claiming the coveted "best use of chicken in a dish" award at the National Fried Chicken Festival for their now-legendary sandwich.

A Neighborhood on the Rise

Bonafried's arrival marks the second exciting restaurant development on this block in recent months. Just up the street, the well-loved Nonna Mia pizzeria is undergoing a transformation, soon to be reborn as The Bell under the leadership of Brooks Reitz, a restaurateur known for his successful ventures in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Show Must Go On (The Food Truck, That Is!)

While the brick-and-mortar Bonafried takes shape, the beloved food truck continues its regular downtown lunchtime service. Fans can catch them on Tuesdays (11 am - 1 pm) at 1515 Poydras St. (across from the Caesars Superdome) and Thursdays (11 am - 1 pm) at the LSU Medical School on Gravier at Bolivar streets.

So, as the music fills the air and Jazz Fest fever takes hold, keep an eye out for the exciting changes unfolding just off Esplanade. Bonafried is preparing to take root, offering a permanent haven for those seeking the ultimate fried chicken experience. Whether you're a longtime devotee of the food truck or a curious newcomer, Bonafried promises to be a delicious addition to the vibrant tapestry of New Orleans' culinary scene.

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