One is best known for a beard of biblical proportions and whipping egg yolks into sugary coladas. The other has been carrying a decades-old Cuban fried chicken recipe that traveled from the Caribbean to New York City and back to Miami. Now the two are working together to preserve that poultry legacy spanning thousands of miles.
Late last year, Vincent Herryman, who in 2014 moved New York City's beloved Caporal Chicken from Harlem and the outer boroughs to the edge of the Everglades, partnered with Frankie Zerquera, whose Cafe 72 across the street from Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center attracts fans throughout the day and well into the overnight hours.
The restaurant was briefly for sale late last year, but the pair's chance meeting at Burger Beast's Luv Me Tenders chicken extravaganza in 2018 helped carve a new way forward.
"I just turned 61 and figured it was time to bring in some new blood, someone who's younger, who knows social media," Herryman says.
For Zerquera, who popped onto the radar with Boss Burger & Brew in Hialeah and later Cafe 72, the mission was to update the look and feel of the place and get things running smoothly without changing the fried chicken and while honoring Caporal's history and dedicated followers.
"Look around, and what you see is I had my designer add some art celebrating the place's history, but the fried chicken I'm not touching. I wouldn't," he says.
Indeed that was Herryman's one caveat in the partnership. He was raised in the restaurant's New York City locations, and it took nearly two decades before his uncle, who shepherded the chicken joints across time, gave him the recipe.
"Two weeks before he died, he said, 'OK, it's time,'" Herryman told New Times in 2014.
The menu here has been tightened, and in some places prices were raised. The chicken-and-waffle plate, for example, increased from about $6 to $10 but now includes a larger, crisper waffle and guava condensed milk, along with the traditional syrup. Rotisserie chicken has been stripped from the menu, as were individual pieces of fried chicken costing a buck each.
Still, the heart of the place remains the fried chicken, which is as juicy and as crackly as it was when Herryman debuted the concept in 2014. The thought, at the time, was to open a second location, and now with Zerquera onboard, that possibility seems alive once more.
Caporal Chicken. 14616 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-551-2227.
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