It’s been a year and a half since Joseph Zegarac opened the popular Southern-styled shop Chow Chow Kitchen in Lakewood, and almost since the beginning the young chef was wondering where it all might lead. Expansion was the obvious choice, given the shop’s almost nonexistent dining room. But where? And with whom?
“After 6 months I started to look forward,” says the fried chicken-obsessed operator. “I’ve met with people to discuss partnering up and I just get anxiety about more work just falling on me. I never got the idea that someone would have my back and work with until this situation came up.”
“Our businesses are coming together,” says Zegarac. “Basically, we’re going to take pretty much everything that sells well and that we love doing on both sides and collage it together. I have very few doubts that it will work out. Our menus really aren’t very different to begin with. We’re doing comfort food. They focus primarily on barbecue. But it’s all comfort; it all revolves around a southern concept.”
Chow Chow at the Parkview is how it’s going to be billed when it comes to life on April 27. The move is a homecoming of sorts for Zegarac, who spent plenty of time cooking in Parkview’s kitchen.
“It’s such a great atmosphere,” he says of the classic Cleveland watering hole. “I’ve never been in a place that did that high of volume that has that great a staff.”
After the transition, Parkview diners will get to enjoy Chow Chow staples on the reg, like Winner Dinner fried chicken and Nashville-style hot chicken, that crimson-crusted and devilishly spicy variation on a theme.
“I want to add some lighter options like a Green Goddess-dressed salad topped with fried chicken,” he adds. "Plus chicken and waffles with syrup and mac and cheese.”
The sad bit, of course, is that Chow Chow will be closing its doors in Lakewood come the first week of April.
“I hate to leave this neighborhood, especially with all that’s been happening lately,” he says. “It’s kind of bittersweet because this is my own thing, it’s been successful and I feel blessed. But to have the opportunity to be more of an executive chef than an operator, to be completely hands-on again in the kitchen, is wonderful. It’s what I love doing.”
Watch Joseph whip up some of his killer hot chicken:
For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...