By Scott Levine
He has pumped up concert-goers and swooned reality television audiences, and now the originator of hype is setting his clock for another creative venture — fried chicken.
Reality TV star and Public Enemy group member Flavor Flav said it's time to open Flav’s Fried Chicken. The inaugural location for the fried-chicken franchise will be in Clinton, a move that seems as unlikely as Flavor Flav’s shift from popular musician to television star. But Flav received plenty of help picking the spot for FFC by local restaurateur and FFC business partner, Nick Cimino.
Cimino’s brother, Peter, owns Mama Cimino’s in Las Vegas, ushering in a relationship that eventually led to Flav’s appearance in Clinton.
“When the (Cimino) family first met me, it was automatically love at first sight,” Flav said while standing in his restaurant Friday. “They loved your boy Flav.”
Once Flav started selling his 99-cent chicken wings at Mama Cimino’s in Las Vegas, Nick Cimino developed the idea to bring FFC to Clinton.
“Nick sees me frying the chicken and says ‘I’m going back to my town and I’m going to build us a restaurant, the first FFC restaurant,’” Flav said. “I said, ‘Huh, are you serious?’”
Nick Cimino bought the building, 916 N. Second St., which is next door to Clinton’s Mama Cimino’s, and started working. Cimino did most of the renovations and developed the ideas behind the pictures and murals, creating a 3D atmosphere of bringing Flav directly to customers, Cimino said. All the murals were painted by the local business, Doggish, and showcase the many faces of Flav, including him wearing his famous clock, viking helmet and grills.
Combined with the support from Flav, Cimino finished the renovations in about two months, readying the building for the grand opening and ribbon cutting slated for Monday.
“I want people to feel him in the building, even when he’s not in the building,” Cimino said.
Although Flav admits that members of Public Enemy, like Chuck D, may not visit often since Clinton is “way out here in the middle of some place,” Flav insists that he will be an active owner. He promises to be in town often to help promote the product and make sure the chicken is cooked to his liking.
Even Thursday night, when Flav entered Clinton, he displayed his kitchen skills by frying up the first piece of chicken at FFC.
“I don’t want to be just known to have a spot,” Flav said. “You’re going to find me in here working. You’re going to be catching me seasoning my chicken, flouring my chicken, frying up my chicken, and not only that, but serving my chicken to my people.”
Although the restaurant is a first-time venture for Flav, cooking is not. Flav graduated from cooking school in 1978 and served as a head cook at numerous places. Through the years, he has experimented with seasoning and came up with a taste that no one has, Flav said.
When making the announcement in November about starting a fried-chicken franchise, some websites showed Flav dressed as the colonel and deep frying KFC’s notable figure. But Flav insists that although he’s ready to give the colonel some competition, he’s trying to be just as successful as KFC, which is coincidently situated next door to Flav’s inaugural restaurant.
One way Flav intends to compete with established chains is his secret — seasoning the meat.
“The taste will blow up your taste buds,” Flav said. “You’ll have fireworks in there.”
The menu also includes some of Cimino’s ribs and regular sides, like macaroni and cheese and greens.
“Honestly with Flavor Flav, if you know anything about Flavor Flav’s history, you never know what he’s going to do next,” Flav said. “You’ll be surprised what he’s going to do next.”
During the next year, Flav hopes to open hundreds of restaurants around the country, especially since he’s already received calls about opportunities through the FFC franchise.
But right now, he’s focusing on making Clinton the first success story for FFC.
“Nick did his half; he built the spot,” Flav said.
“Now I have to bring in my half, and bring the promotion and the people. That’s why I’m here.”
Transforming into a new role is something Flavor Flav has never shied away from.
Starting out as a famous hype man for Public Enemy, Flav turned his career around in the 2000s as one of the biggest reality stars in America.
That notoriety has helped Flav develop his own fried chicken franchise, vodka business and now he’s setting his sights on best-selling author.
Flav confirmed Friday that he finished his autobiography, “Flavor Flav: The Icon.”
Other rappers have succeeded with memoirs, and Flav decided it was his time to attempt another challenge.
“One day we will die,” Flav said. “We don’t know when. While I’m alive, I better get it in. I better put a book out right now, while I’m still breathing.”
Flav expects the book to hit book shelves in late May or early June.