Micah Camden is at it again. After opening a buzzy vegan ice cream shop and the second location of his super-popular fast food chain this year, the restaurateur is getting into the chicken game. SW Ash restaurant Bae’s will specialize in all things chicken, from chicken and waffles to fried, skin-on “nuggets.”
He’s not doing it alone: As Willamette Week first reported, Camden is partnering with Ndamukong Suh, who plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Suh, who was born in Portland, approached Camden about opening the restaurant, wanting to get into fast-casual, organic chickens.
“He said, ‘I want to do a better version of Popeyes,’” Camden says, standing within Bae’s. “‘I eat a lot of chicken, but I want access to an organic bird that’s accessible.’” At first, Camden wasn’t initially convinced — how could someone sell organic chickens that aren’t exorbitantly expensive? His answer: whole birds, broken down in-house, with all parts used in a large-scale format.
That’s the foundation of Bae’s Chicken, which will serve both grilled and fried chicken in a variety of preparations: wings will end up fried and perched on top of waffles, bones will boil down into stocks and gravy, and thighs and breasts will end up sandwiched, either fried with sweet tea mayo or grilled. Camden is particularly happy with his “nuggets,” which are actually split, deboned drumsticks that are fried skin-on; those nuggets are served with white pepper gravy and fermented hot sauce.
Bae’s is taking over the former Ash Street Saloon: The team brightening up the space with white tile, while keeping the rustic-looking brick walls and archway. The restaurant will seat around 70, with seating in a dining room attached to the main counter area and in a plant-covered, enclosed patio. Camden wants to host projected movies outside on the patio, making the space feel a little less grab-and-go. “Everyone at once figured out that if you take away the bussers and typical serves, put everyone in the kitchen, you’re actually profitable,” Camden says. “We’re all doing that, but the game has to be stepped up.”
Still, considering the neighborhood and business model, Bae’s should still be fast enough to accommodate crowds — especially the late-night crowd. Bae’s will be open until 11 p.m. nightly at the earliest, to accommodate the various bar-crawlers as well as late-night delivery orderers. Bae’s should be open in mid-to-late September at 225 SW Ash Street.
• Micah Camden Is Partnering With NFL Star Ndamukong Suh to Open a New Restaurant Downtown [Willamette Week]
• Little Bean [EPDX]
• Hugely Popular Fast-Food Spot Super Deluxe Has Opened Its New Restaurant in the Pearl [EPDX]