Louisville chef Darnell Ferguson opens seafood restaurant in the West End

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For years, people have been asking celebrity chef Darnell Ferguson to open a restaurant in Louisville’s West End. He finally announced one in February: a new seafood concept called Tha Drippin Crab. Now it’s almost ready to open.

Tha Drippin Crab will open its doors smoothly to its first customers on October 14 at 11 a.m. Reservations can be made from October 20 on OpenTable, and a grand opening is scheduled for mid-November.

The 3,000 square foot restaurant located at 1219 W. Jefferson St. is distinguished by brilliantly painted walls in teal, orange and yellow. Some walls are lined with a painted spoonful of “drip” butter, with quotes like “I have a drop in every bite” and “Welcome to the Russell Quarter” around the restaurant. Wooden tables are offset by yellow and teal chairs and hanging lamps; one wall is decorated with newspaper clippings and an illuminated neon sign with the restaurant’s name on it.

“It’s a mix between Pappadeaux and boiled seafood restaurants,” said Ferguson, referring to the popular Cincinnati-based seafood restaurant. “We combined them together. Everything is super unique, the corn, the potatoes, even the egg is different. We really did it all: the details you will see in the best restaurants are here. I wanted to make sure. the quality was second to none, nothing was overlooked.

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Honors for SuperChefs' Darnell Ferguson adorn the wall as well as a neon sign for Tha Drippin Crab at the Russell Neighborhood Restaurant.  Ferguson rose to fame for his cooking at the SuperChefs restaurant he founded in 2015. His style has been described as

Tha Drippin Crab’s menu will include appetizers like seafood potato skins ($ 12) filled with salmon, shrimp, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, cheese sauce and smoked shrimp and cheese cocktail ($ 17) served with a sweet chili cocktail sauce.

There are also “Drippin Fries” ($ 12) seasoned with garlic and Parmesan herbs and finished with a homemade cheese sauce. The menu offers a variety of specialty dishes, “Drippin Sandwiches”, “Drippin Bowls”, crab legs, lobster tails and seven “Signature Drips” – Louisville Drip, Lemon Pepper Drip, Garlic Drip, Korean Drip, Steph-Curry , Italian- Drip and Jamaican Drip – which can be ordered alongside any menu item or a make-your-own combo.

Specialties include Seafood Lasagna ($ 23), with Truffle Alfredo, Creamy Tomato Sauce, Shrimp, Smoked Salmon, Fried Lobster Tail and Cheese, Birra Seafood Tacos ($ 14), which include a flour tortilla (gluten-free options available), onions, cheese, shrimp, crab and cilantro with drippin sauce and Chimichurri Shrimp & Grits Scampi ($ 18), with shrimp, cheese grits, truffled chimichurri and parmesan shavings.

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Local Louisville icons, left to right, Jamon Brown, Brad Harris, Sadiqa Reynolds, Derek Anderson, Ed Hamilton and Judge Derwin Webb adorn a wall inside Tha Drippin Crab, a new restaurant from SuperChefs founder Darnell Ferguson in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville.

You can also order one of the four “Signature Drip Combo” dishes ($ 29 to $ 61) with a combination of snow crab, smoked or fried shrimp, sausage, corn, crispy potatoes, egg and more, depending on the flat. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also create your own “Drip Combo”.

For “special occasions” you can order 24K Wings, which are crispy golden honey barbecue wings finished in real 24K gold. The order of six wings ($ 50) also comes with a mini bottle of champagne.

“People drive from here to Cincinnati to go to Pappadeaux,” Ferguson said. “Now I want the people of Cincinnati to drive here.”

At the bar, Tha Drippin Crab will serve 20-ounce cocktails and frozen cocktails named after characters from SpongeBob SquarePants. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner and will be one of the only sit-down restaurants in Louisville’s West End.

“There is a huge need for a place to sit where you can pick someone up after church, at work, just on a normal Tuesday or Wednesday,” Ferguson said. “There is a great need for a place where people can sit, a place of very high quality that will also bring more business to the West End.”

Celebrating the legends of black cuisine in Louisville

Bright colors adorn the restaurant and bar at Tha Drippin Crab.  October 7, 2021

The most important thing about opening Tha Drippin Crab was to bring a successful business to the West End, he said. The second most important thing was to inspire others to bring their businesses to the area.

“We have photos of influential people who have marked Louisville and our Heritage Wall celebrating black pioneers in the culinary industry,” Ferguson said. “Three of these pioneers were all slaves. We tell their story.”

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A full wall of the restaurant features Louisville greats like Judge Derwin Webb, sculptor Ed Hamilton and journalist Brad Harrison eating Tha Drippin Crab food. An orange column in the middle of the restaurant is painted with instructions on how to open a crab leg or crab claw. The back bathroom hallway lists dozens of names of blacks who have marked the food industry, including stories written about people like James Hemings, who was enslaved by Founding Father Thomas Jefferson and was the first American to train as a chef in France.

“The West End is full of people of color. I want them to come here and see this and think bigger,” Ferguson said. “I want them to feel the same in their lives and be inspired.”

Ferguson is well known in Louisville as the founder and chef of SuperChefs, an ‘eclectic’ inspired breakfast, brunch and lunch spot at 17092 Bardstown Road in the Highlands. He’s also caught the nation’s attention with appearances on shows such as Guy Fieri’s “Tournament of Champions,” Food Network’s “Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge” in 2018, and winning “Chopped Next Gen” in 2021. Most recently, he launched a new show called “Tiny Food Fight” on Discovery Plus with YouTube star Mamrie Hart.

The story continues after the gallery

“I’m really excited about this,” Ferguson said. “Most of the things I want to do now is shine some light on someone else. When you have a lot of light shining on you… direct it somewhere else. Have on WAVE-3, for that, everything. is all about exposure for other people. ”

Building Black Wealth in West Louisville

Tha Drippin Crab has been in development for over a year, Ferguson said, and would not have seen the light of day without Johnetta Roberts, owner of The 40 & 1 Company, which aims to build black wealth through the development of the real estate, business growth and finance. advice.

Roberts was the one who connected Ferguson with the financial investors who made Tha Drippin Crab possible: Louisville Forward and LHOME, or Louisville Housing Opportunities and Micro-Enterprise Community Development Loan Fund. Tha Drippin Crab is part of the Village at West Jefferson Project, a $ 7.8 million office and retail complex that has brought 30,000 square feet of new commercial development to the neighborhood.

Darnell Ferguson of SuperChefs is opening a new seafood restaurant, Tha Drippin Crab, on West Jefferson Street in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville.  It's a bright and cheerful place that Ferguson says will serve the

“They didn’t try to discourage me or make me feel like it was impossible,” Ferguson said. “I think they saw the potential and believed in me, and sometimes that’s what you need. It’s important that black people have stuff in the West End.”

Tha Drippin Crab will be open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Featured reporter Dahlia Ghabour covers food, culinary trends and restaurants in the Louisville area. Send tips on new places or story ideas to [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dghabour.

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