Krispy’s Fried Chicken and Seafood is probably not a name most Derby residents know about. But that’s because, as the restaurant’s slogan suggests, it’s a well-kept secret.
The fact that the Wichita-based restaurant is making its way to Derby was brought out of secrecy after a Krispy’s sign was hung on the old Sonic location on the west side of Baltimore, just south of Washington.
The Wichita business, located on South Hillside, north of 31st Street, is a small, clean facility run by owner John Nguyen’s family and friends. The food is almost all made from scratch with a recipe he learned from a family friend in Texas.
“There’s a guy down there that taught me how to do everything,” he said. “He owns a lot of restaurants down there.”
Nguyen is young with tattoos on one arm. He talked about his business casually, but from experience that his age didn’t immediately suggest.
“It’s kind of like Southern cooking,” he said. “But I like a lot of Cajun food so I
mix things up.”
The menu – which Nguyen said is constantly changing with temporary specials – includes fried chicken and waffles, fried chicken tenders, po’ boy sandwiches, fried catfish, fried shrimp and this month, Taiwanese shaved ice.
“It’s doing really, really well,” he said.
The chicken tenders, made from scratch, had a light, crispy breading that wasn’t too greasy. The gravy was peppery and coupled well with the chicken.
“We would just cook in the back and if it’s good and we think it will sell, we’ll put it on there,” Nguyen said. “I kind of know what Wichitans really like to eat.”
The Derby menu will be pretty much the same, Nguyen said. He said he wants to stay consistent with any other stores he decides to open in the Wichita area.
Besides the Derby restaurant, which will be run by his father, Mai Nguyen, he is also seeking somewhere in west Wichita. But he said he wants Derby open first.
The future Derby home for Krispy’s was once a Sonic and still maintains the chain’s retro look. But the Baltimore building was also briefly a different drive-in restaurant called “Sock Hop.” After Sock Hop closed, the building was vacant for years.
Mai said he is still working on plans for the Derby location and has hopes to expand the Sonic-sized kitchen into a slightly larger dining area. He said some of the drive-in stalls would likely stay.
Nguyen said he hopes the process will only take a two or three months.
“That can always be pushed back,” he said. “It’s an older building, so we’ll see.”