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New London - Daddy Jack's, originally a small chain of lobster and chowder restaurants centered in Texas, will be making its New England debut in a historic 1790 building at 181 Bank St. in the next few weeks.
Operated by Jack Chaplin, owner of Chaplin's restaurant at 161 Bank St., the restaurant will feature sit-down lobster dinners with corn on the cob and baked potatoes for $10.95, as well as other family-friendly fare between $8 and $13. Chaplin said Wednesday that a liquor license likely won't be issued until July, but he was hoping to open on a BYOB basis by the third week of June.
"It's a beautiful space," Chaplin said. "It's got a real good feel to it."
In the former James Drug building, Daddy Jack's will have about 3,000 square feet of space, allowing for an 85-seat restaurant. A large stone bar installed by Chaplin's business partner Cliff Goyette will offer up space for an additional 22 people, and there also will be seating on an outside patio.
"We'll have to grow into it," Chaplin laughed.
Chaplin's daughters, Rachel and Luci, will co-manage the restaurant. Chaplin expects to employ at least 20 at Daddy Jack's, including up to a half dozen full time.
In addition to lobster and clam dishes, Chaplin plans to cook thin-crust New Haven-style pizza in a wood-fired oven, will offer moderately priced steaks such as ribeyes, top sirloin and New York strip and plans an assortment of Italian dishes featuring chicken, pork and pasta. At the low end of the price spectrum will be spaghetti and meatballs as well as a wide selecti on of entree-type salads.
"I want fair portions for fair prices," Chaplin said.
Chaplin said the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
It also will be offering a Sunday themed brunch that might include Dixieland, gospel or jazz music. Chaplin, who plans to maintain a presence at both his downtown restaurants, said he expects to do some of the filming for his public-access cable TV show "Daddy Jack's Cooking with the Blues" at his new space.
"I've been all over the country, and this is where I want to be right now," Chaplin said. "I've never felt more a part of a community than in New London."