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A taste of Mardi Gras
By Matt Stone

February 18, 2006

Editor's note: Residents of the Kyrene Corridor can experience the vicarious thrill of Mardi Gras at one of the area's notable dining spots. Here's what Matt Stone learned during an interview with the owner of Voodoo Daddy's.

Anyone who has ever been down south to culture-rich New Orleans will tell you there's nothing like it.
Richard Kerchenko, owner of Voodoo Daddy's Magic Kitchen & Bar, says the same about his restaurant.


Kerchenko purchased the Cajun/Creole-themed restaurant five years ago and has made significant changes to amp up the atmosphere and quality. What originally attracted him was the theme of the restaurant, Kerchenko said.

"(I love) the experience," said Kerchenko. "The total experience people can enjoy." "I thought it was underserved in the metro market."

After acquiring the restaurants, one in Phoenix and one in Tempe, Kerchenko set out to implement a new system of orientation and training. He also expanded the menu, adding a wine selection, barbecue and steak while preserving the southern theme.
Kerchenko also boasts that the food is unparalleled in accuracy.

"Our menu is the most authentic Cajun (food), period," Kerchenko said.

To fit the concept, the menu includes specials such as "catfish madness," "all you can eat crawfish boil," "back Gulf shrimp stuffed with crab meat" and "a dozen Gulf oysters."

Staying truthful to New Orleans style, half of the restaurant represents a Bourbon Street feel, while the other half strives for the look of a bayou. With any Bourbon Street, there has to be a celebration of Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras.

The annual holiday marks the day of Mardi Gras (which means "Fat Tuesday" in French) and will fall on Feb. 28 this year.
Kerchenko has planned a sizeable party, one he holds at Voodoo Daddy's every year. With the accompaniment of live music, outside dining, giveaways and, of course, colorful Mardi Gras beads, the
celebration is hugely popular, Kerchenko said.

"We have people lining up to get into the restaurant," Kerchenko said. "(It's) our busiest day of the year."

Although cognizant of the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina, Kerchenko says proceeds from this year's "Fat Tuesday" event won't be funneled into disaster relief–not from his own lack of interest but
because an earlier fund-raising effort fell flat.

Katrina is not forgotten to Kerchenko, however: The restaurant's most popular drink, Hurricane, serves as a constant reminder of the tragedy and is offered in three types--category one, three and five,
depending on potency.

In the restaurant business for 30 years, Kerchenko knows how to accommodate his patrons. While he said most of the clientele on weekdays consists of business people, the restaurant also serves many families. To adjust to the normally less-developed taste buds of a child, Kerchenko has an extensive kids menu that includes classic favorites that are a little less Cajun-esque.

The hardest people to please at such a themed-restaurant are visitors from the area it is based on. Here, however, it's not a problem, said Kerchenko.

"They love it..." said Kerchenko. "I hear that all the time. They're very passionate about coming in."

Voodoo Daddy's Magic Kitchen & Bar is located at 1706 E. Warner Road, Tempe.
































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