A NEW LEGACY
Acclaimed San Antonio chef closing roti concept to make room for fried chicken
One of San Antonio's most celebrated culinary storytellers is writing a new chapter for her Bottling Department food hall stall at Pearl. Chef Nicola Blaque is shuttering Mi Roti in preparation for debuting a new concept, Freight Fried Chicken.
Freight draws its inspiration from the Gordonsville Waiter Carriers. Though fried chicken has a racially charged legacy dating back to D.W. Griffith's white supremacist epic Birth of a Nation, the food became a path to economic empowerment for a group of formerly enslaved women.
The Virginia town was a transportation hub during Reconstruction, but the trains passing through notably did not include dining cars. Camped on the platform, Black women would sell chicken, pies, and other dishes to a captive audience, passing food through the windows. The fare became so popular that many would book a trip specifically for a Waiter Carriers meal.
"I'm really excited about Freight Fried Chicken because it's about more than food," said Blaque via a release. "It's an opportunity to tell the story of women I identify with, people who had a vision to create something and found a way to support their families while also uniting communities."
The homage continues from concept to form. The Freight recipe employs a dry batter, a style favored by the Waiter Carriers. Though guests can expect to find the chicken in more contemporary forms like tenders and sandwiches, it will be served with biscuits, just as it was in the 1800s.
Locals have until December 31 to get a final taste of Mi Roti. Freight is anticipated to be up and running by January 2024. The official opening date will be announced in the new year.