Rapper Nas is getting a new crib in his old hood.
The hip-hop legend turned venture capitalist — who invested in the fried chicken and waffle spot Sweet Chick with the promise of expanding into his home borough of Queens — will see the chain open a fifth outpost in Long Island City late February 2018.
“To be able to open it in Queens and be able to fulfill the promise is pretty dope for me,” said Sweet Chick founder and CEO John Seymour, 39, who made the acquaintance of his favorite rapper through a mutual contact in the media industry in 2015.
A Queens location was part of their dialogue from the very beginning, Seymour said.
But Sweet Chick would add its third and fourth restaurants in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles before a friend alerted the restaurateur about a 1,500-square-foot space for rent on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City.
When Nas met Seymour at the storefront less than a mile south of the Queensbridge Housing project where he was raised as Nasir Jones, “He was just like, ‘Wow. This is dope,’ ” Nas’ associate recalled.
“He came onto the street and you could see the Queensborough Bridge, and he was telling me a story about how, ‘I used to walk over here when I was kid, and there was a diner over here that we used to come to,’ ” Seymour continued. “He was just like nostalgic about the whole thing.”
That element of nostalgia will extend into the new restaurant’s design: when Sweet Chick opens in the location that previously housed the Michelin Bib Gourmand favorite Alobar next year, it will feature a backroom inspired by Nas’ father, the jazz trumpeter Olu Dara.
“Me and Nas were talking about it, and I was like, ‘I want it to be a spot where your father would have loved to hang out back in the day,” said Seymour, who ascribes the mid-20th century origins of his chain’s signature dish to a Harlem supper club where musicians getting off work too late for dinner and too early for breakfast would order a compromise between the two.
For brunch, Sweet Chick offers only the standard fried chicken and Belgian waffle plate ($16), but its dinner menu features all kinds of $18 chicken and waffle combinations, from the General (General Tso’s sauce on a rice and broccoli waffle) to fried chicken Parmesan (tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil and a Parmesan waffle.)
The eatery’s “moodier” back room — its atmosphere conjured by dark leather booth seating and iconic jazz photos on the walls — will be open to the public during its busiest hours and available for private parties.
“It will also be Nas’ hangout when he’s in town,” Seymour said.
The hip-hop artist and record producer’s Instagram account show his connections to the community, particularly the nearby NYCHA housing projects, remain strong: Last December, Nas participated in a toy giveaway at the campus’ Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House; he also sponsored an annual “The World is Yours” camping trip for children living in the Queensbridge development.
The Sweet Chick co-owner and venture capitalist (whose L.A.-based firm is called QueensBridge Venture Partners) has expressed interest in hiring Queensbridge residents to work at the company’s Long Island City restaurant, too, according to Seymour.
“I know [the new location] is a big deal for him,” the Williamsburg resident said, “because Nas is invested in a lot of tech companies, but he’s not invested in something so tangible as this.”
Sweet Chick is slated to open at 46-42 Vernon Blvd. in late February, early March.