Chicken-N-Mo celebrates 30 years, an iconic Spokane eatery closes, plus more updates to the restaurant scene

click to enlarge Chicken-n-Mo's Bob Hemphill and his family are celebrating 30 years of serving killer fried chicken (and more) this month. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

Young Kwak photo

Chicken-n-Mo’s Bob Hemphill and his family are celebrating 30 years of serving killer fried chicken (and more) this month.

Three generations of the Hemphill family were working the other day at Chicken-N-Mo (414 W. Sprague Ave.), which has received considerable attention from local media.

On July 1, Chicken-N-Mo celebrated 30 years in business with founder Bob Hemphill, who started the restaurant just shy of his 50th birthday, and turned 80 on July 6. After running several non-food businesses, in 1992 Hemphill saw and filled a niche for Southern-style cooking in Spokane.

The menu at Chicken-N-Mo includes such staples as fried chicken and catfish, and barbecue ribs and chicken, as well as sides like stewed greens and hush puppies (fried dollops of cornmeal). Hemphill also makes and sells his own Old South BBQ Sauce, which is also available at several local grocery stores (Egger’s Meats, Huckleberry’s Natural Market, Sonnenberg’s Markets; and select Yoke’s Fresh Markets, URM Stores, and Rosauers).

The current location has all the feel of a beloved hole-in-the-wall, with wooden benches and tables, assorted plants, and counter-service ordering. The vertical, wood panel walls are covered in license plates from around the country, plus banners, posters and other paraphernalia supporting local sports and schools, and various items testifying to the pioneering achievements of Black Americans.

Count Hemphill among them.

“There’d never been a Black-owned business [in Spokane] before,” he says from his perch near the counter, where he greets many customers by name. A giant of a man with a stoop as faint as his Southern accent, Hemphill describes how the menu and business evolved.

“We started out with nothin,'” he says. “And now… this.”

OPENINGS

If you’re looking to bliss out on ice cream and other sweet treats in the Nine Mile Falls area, check out CHILL OUT ICE CREAMERY ( 5919 Hwy. 291). The new eatery takes the place of MadLo’s Ramen House, whose owners will continue to offer boba tea drinks ($4.25/16-ounce; $5/24-ounce) in the new creamery. Look for 20-plus flavors of ice cream imported from Wisconsin, handcrafted waffle cones and other sweets like cotton candy ($3). Try a signature sundae like the Nirvana ($4.25/small; $5.75/large) with caramel ice cream, a chocolate chip cookie, caramel sauce, whipped cream, almonds slivers and a cherry. More at chillouticecreamery.com.

TORO VIEJO (117 N. Second St., Coeur d’Alene) recently reopened with a limited menu after intermittent pandemic-related closures since 2020 (the Lakeside Avenue entrance of the restaurant is still closed). Currently rebranded as Toro Borracho Tacos and Tequila Bar, it is the third Mexican restaurant in North Idaho for Ruben Briseno, who in 1992 opened the original eatery in Hayden (9075 N. Government Way). A third Toro Viejo exists in Post Falls (3960 W. Fifth Ave.). Visit toroviejo.com.

TRANSITIONS

The rumors are true. MONARCH RAMEN (1401 N. Fourth St., Coeur d’Alene) closed this week after nearly three years in business. In Spokane, DOLLY’S CAFÉ (1825 N. Washington St.), which Dolly Mueller established in 1958, has also closed. The business is listed for sale. Fingers crossed, someone will purchase it and keep the iconic local eatery alive.

The New York City Piano Bar (313 Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene) has changed its name and format to DUELERS PIANO BAR. If you’re expecting pistols at 10 paces, think again; this is dueling pianos, as in two piano players playing simultaneously. The subterranean space in the former Wine Cellar location also serves craft beer, wine and canned cocktails, and a few simple snacks. Visit duelerspianobar.com. ♦

To-Go Box is the Inlander‘s regular dining news column, offering tasty tidbits and updates on the region’s food and drink scene. Send tips and updates to [email protected].

Article Source: Inlander