Signage at The World Famous Chicken & Waffles store bore Gladys Knight’s name on Feb. 15, 2017.
Photo: BECCA GODWIN/AJC
Photo: BECCA GODWIN/AJC

Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles dropping name; fails inspection again

After a wildly tumultuous year for the Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles brand, the last remaining restaurant is removing the soul music legend’s name from its business.

The iconic downtown Atlanta restaurant, open since 1999, scored a failing 65/U on a health inspection Monday afternoon. It was ordered to close “immediately due to toilet facilities in disrepair,” but has since reopened following a re-inspection. 

According to the inspection report, the restaurant is now called The World Famous Chicken & Waffles. 

But for customers it’s hard to see the difference. The Gladys Knight sign still hangs outside and someone at the restaurant answered the phone using the singer’s name, which remains on the restaurant’s website

But manager Tracey Caldwell confirmed the new name, and said signage would eventually reflect the change. 

The development follows a feud between Knight and the restaurant’s owner, her son Shanga Hankerson.

Hankerson was arrested on felony theft charges in June after Georgia Department of Revenue agents said he failed to turn over taxes he collected. His employees told investigators he used the money for sex parties and marijuana, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found.

MORE: Georgia agents raid Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles restaurants

MORE: Gladys Knight seeks to assure diners after restaurant fails health inspection

In September, Knight filed suit to have her name removed from the restaurants, with Hankerson responding that Knight’s “lack of mental capacity” barred her from removing it. 

The federal case has been settled, but the terms were not disclosed.

The restaurant’s Lithonia spot closed permanently in August, with the Cascade Road location following suit in October.

The Monday visit from the health department was the first of four court-ordered health inspections for the downtown location. It failed three inspections in 2016.

According to the report, there was "no person in charge” of the establishment during the visit.

Officials also reported live roaches in the kitchen and “mold-like growth” on the inside and outside of two boxes of cream cheese.

The business passed a re-inspection with an 89/B Wednesday morning, according to a Fulton County health department spokeswoman.

The restaurant’s disassociation from Gladys Knight signals the end of an era. 

The original Gladys Knight eatery opened in 1997 at 618 Ponce de Leon Ave., in Midtown. The opening was attended by then-Mayor Bill Campbell, news anchors Monica Kaufman and Karyn Greer and R&B stars Aliyah and Ginuwine. 

The Peachtree Street location was featured on a 2009 episode of “Man vs. Food,” hosted by Emory grad Adam Richman.

Additional reporting by AJC staff writer Willoughby Mariano.

The World Famous Chicken & Waffles

529 Peachtree Street

Atlanta, GA 30308

Score: 65

Read the full report

Another health inspection failure includes live cockroaches.
Video: www.accessatlanta.com

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