Cheap Eats

Richard Hales to Open Bird & Bone at Wynwood Yard: Nashville Hot Chicken Comes to Miami

Sakaya Kitchen and Blackbrick's Richard Hales is opening Bird & Bone, a new summer concept that features chicken, ribs, and sides, at the Wynwood Yard.

Bird & Bone will set up shop in the next few weeks for spring and summer. Hales' Dim Ssäm à Gogo truck has been at the Wynwood Yard since January, and the chef thinks it's time to try a different concept. The truck is undergoing a transformation into Bird & Bone, being outfitted with a new façade that will make it look more like a structure than a vehicle. "We signed a three-month lease to do Bird & Bone," Hales says. "If it does well, we'll renew and possibly then look for a brick-and-mortar spot. The menu is something that works for an outdoor location."

Best known for Asian flavor profiles, Hales is turning to his birthplace for inspiration. "I was born in Louisiana, and we had spicy fried chicken growing up in my house. It's something I grew up eating my whole life." 

Hales will offer one particular trending dish sorely lacking in Miami: hot chicken.

Hales' dish rests a piece of spicy fried chicken on a slice of Zak the Baker bread, topped with a cooling pickle. This iconic offering is best known in Nashville but is available throughout most of the South. Nina Compton makes a version at her New Orleans eatery, Compere Lapin, and hot chicken makes its way north to Chicago, where it's a staple at Parson's Chicken & Fish. In Miami, it's nearly impossible to find. "I looked into that and asked, 'Why is KFC the only option for this national trend in Miami?" Hales says. "I tried the KFC version, and they're not even doing it right."

In addition to the hot chicken, the menu features chicken wings, nuggets, and a half chicken — all served at heat levels ranging from mild to fiery. (There's also an option to order "Southern" style with no sauce.)

The chef says each heat level will also incorporate different flavor profiles. "I deal with spicy food a lot, and I have for seven years. I know how to do it well. We're testing the spice blends, and I've pretty much nailed it." For instance, the Nashville hot 'n' numbing style (level "fak'n hot" on the menu) incorporates traditional Nashville hot sauce with the numbing oil Hales uses at Blackbrick. "It's sort of an American thing mixed with my Asian pantry." All chicken dishes are made with birds from Florida Fresh in Ocala. 

In addition, Hales will offer a rib of the day. "We do a lot of cumin lamb ribs, so look for that on the menu. We'll be making both dry and wet rubs to go with the meats."

No chicken or rib meal is complete without sides. Bird & Bone will offer pimento mac 'n' cheese, green goddess coleslaw, and wedge fries. "It's a very Southern type of menu," the chef/owner says. "You get a protein, two sides, a piece of bread, and a pickle."

Summer is the season for fried chicken in Miami, with many high-end restaurants, such as Cena by Michy's, offering a weekly fried chicken meal. Hales doesn't, however, see fried chicken as a trend as much as an evergreen dish that's everyone's favorite. "When I want to cheat, it's with a piece of fried chicken. We sell a lot of Korean fried chicken at Sakaya Kitchen. In fact, 48 percent of my sales in all my restaurants are from chicken and ribs."

The menu hasn't been finalized, but many dishes are priced well under $10, making Bird & Bone an affordable alfresco meal. Considering that the Wynwood Yard also features a full bar, live entertainment, and new tenant Mr. Bing shaved ice cream, you might just have your summer hangout spot already lined up.