Last Update
Jun 27th, 2019

SPATCH

3848 N Federal Hwy
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33301
954 607-1703

Details

Parking: Private Lot
CC: Yes
Alcohol: Wine and Beer
Outdoor: Yes

Pros

Nicer than Typical Fast Food Joint

Cons

Tiny Chickens
Hot Sauce isn't Hot

Insider Tips

Rotisserie Chickens next Door are Cheaper
Bring Your Own Hot Sauce

Description

Review 2/17/17

I was going to be driving by today so I thought I'd try something else at Spatch; I figured I'd order online and just pick it up on my way home. But their online ordering system requires that you pay in advance, and I didn't want to use my real name. Some other systems (Pei Wei, for one) offer to let you pay at the restaurant when you pick it up. Do I have to pay in advance when I order Chinese food or a Pizza? No. So no update for Spatch.

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I went back and looked at some reviews and pictures of Nando's. Nando's also put the little flags on the chicken. Even the logo is similar:

Nando's on the left, Spatch on the right. I can hear the conversation: "Give us something similar, but different enough to not create a copyright violation concern".

I have no problem stealing other people's ideas, if you make them better. I believe in the "Better Mousetrap" theory of evolution. But this isn't better in any way. Nando's has more choices, better sides, better looking food, and the Nando's I've seen "look" like real restaurants, even though they are Quick Serve. I have noticed that the newest Nando's are more fast-foodie (and many have closed), so maybe they're becoming another bad chain restaurant.

Review 2/17/17

Time to taste the chicken.

Enough speculating. Enough waiting for a real review to appear online. I had to taste this stuff for myself.

The newest venture from the group that owns YOLO, Tarpon Bend and S3 is now open. They call this a fast food restaurant; the people who read QSR magazine have learned that with nicer furnishings, they can charge more for the food. Spatch is nicer than the average Fast Food Restaurant.

It's still not a restaurant. The little tables and chairs remind me of Sunday School.

Their website touts the "easy orderding", but you can spend 1/2 hour trying to find all of the choices on the big wall mural menu. Luckily I'd decided what I wanted before I left the condo; 1/4 chicken dark, with medium sauce and a side of mac and cheese. Mac and Cheese is a "premium" side (because elbow macaroni is so bleeping expensive), so there's a $1 upcharge. Fine. The rice and beans looked awful in the picture I saw.

You get a plastic, non-take home cup if you eat in; I headed over to the beverage station to get some iced tea. Fresh lemon is available; they don't have regular iced tea; just green tea and 2 flavors that only people trying to be edgy would want to try. African Rooibus and Pinapple Lychee. I'll bet they don't have to refill those very often.

As with all of the random QSR concepts, you never know how it works. After getting a table, I got back up to get silverware and to check out the sauces, but there's an attendent who said he'd bring it to me. I'm already here, but if you want to feel useful, fine.

The tagline here is "Saucy", because it's all about the sauce. I was about to find out all about it.

They gave me a beeper so I assumed that I had to pick up my food when it was ready. I really dislike Quick Serve.

I ordered my chicken "Medium", which is how I always order chicken wings. Medium usually has some heat but you don't need to keep a gallon of water handy. I asked the attendent dude to bring me some of the Hot Peri Peri sauce. so I could see just how hot it was.

Notice they use the word "inferno". My beeper never went off and the dude brought over my plate in less that 5 minutes.

The first thing that struck me was how small the chicken was; this was from a rotisserie sized chicken (I put the fork on the plate to show how small the chicken is). The pictures I'd seen of the 1/2 chickens were larger; could they have used larger chickens for the opening, or maybe larger chicken for 1/2 chickens than for pieces? I'm guessing the latter. This is a quarter of a 3 lbs chicken which probably cost them $2. I buy 5lb chickens in the supermarket and they're much bigger than this. Page down and you'll see the 5lb quarter I used to test Nando's sauce; look at how much meatier it is than this.

I do like the little flags. Something else that struck me was that this didn't look 'flame broiled". Look at the grill marks; just a couple of weak ones.

When I cut into it I got a better idea of why; the chicken was undercooked. I tasted a piece and while there was a little of the "broiled" taste, I didn't taste any marinade or even much of the sauce. It certainly wasn't hot, or "bursting with flavor" as the fake reviews had all proclaimed.

I poured a bit of the hot sauce on the plate and carefully gave it a try. While the sauce had a pleasant taste, it wasn't hot at all. I tried a bit more, this time taking a bigger swab of the sauce. But alas, the hot sauce has no heat.

The chicken was really a huge disappointment. While I didn't think that it was going to wow me, I did expect it to be good. But this was really bad. I had to put salt and pepper on it, which kind of goes contrary to their claims that the chicken has some magical marinade and a signature sauce. It was also kind of rubbery, which is likely a prep issue. TRP are new to the fast food biz.

The Mac and cheese was fine, just elbows with a cheesey sauce.

Some bread crumbs on top to make it look special Not bad, but not worth $3.50 either.

As the attendent dude was taking away my plate, I said to him "Even the hot sauce isn't hot". He smiled and said "They're trying to fool you". I don't quite know what he meant by that, but he didn't seem surprised by what I said.

The downside of the nicer beverage cup is that you can't take what you didn't finish home with you. I didn't see any take out cups, and I didn't ask for one.

Conclusion

When your headline product is hot sauce and your sauces aren't hot, you have a problem. And when you have 3 different sauces with 3 different levels of heat, your hottest sauce ought to be REALLY hot. None of that is true here.

I'm surprised at how bad the chicken was. While I didn't expect it to be worthy of a 5 star rating, I expected the chicken to be better than something I could whip up in 10 minutes at home. Frankly, I could whiz up some garlic, peppers and lemon juice in a blender and throw it on a rotisserie chicken and it would be light years better than this. And I wouldn't have to worry about the chicken being undercooked.

The Restaurant People baffle me. I know they're stuck with Boulukos, who is a mechanical chef; very good technically but he knows nothing about food; and Petrillo doesn't seem to know much either, but don't any of their investors have taste buds? How can you invest millions in a business based on a specific "hot" pepper and have nobody notice that the resulting product isn't hot?

I wouldn't have predicted that Fork and Balls would close so quickly, because you never know about a bar on Las Olas. But with this food, in this dead shopping center; I'll be very surprised if they don't lose their money on this one. Nobody is switching from Cholula for this stuff.

Today's Spatch-cock News

So for the last 4 days they've been trying to push this South African guy, Stavros Florias, as the "founder". Perhaps TRP is trying to distance themselves from the place? Florias owns a bunch of coffee shops and grab and go places in South Africa, and while the web site is registered to a guy in South Africa, the Trademark for Spatch was registered by The Restaurant People, the business is in Tim Petrillo's name and there's no mention of Florias before 4 days ago. Meanwhile, There is ZERO mention of spatch on Florias' company web site or his linked in profile.

I believe it's just Fake News from TRP, who just can't open a restaurant on the merits of the concept rather than some gimmick. As if some South African guy gives them more credibility or something.

I've also been thinking about Nando's: Nando's opened its first restaurant in 1987, back when hot sauce was pretty much limited to something that went on chicken wings. So the Peri-Peri concept to South Africa was what Buffalo Wings were to the US. But now when a restaurant has buffalo chicken something on the menu, you kind of snicker and realize you're dealing with people who don't have any real ideas.

Past Spatch-cock News

I was just thinking about the name of this place; we made fun of "Fork and Balls", because who would use Balls in the name of a restaurant not located in Wilton Manors? So it's a good thing that they settled on Spatch and left off the rest ....

They put up a website today; not sure why waiting for opening day is a good strategy in today's world, but more info is now available. They've started on the wrong foot by marketing their main product in a way that the FDA doesn't allow:

The FDA Specificially does not allow marketing Chicken as Hormone Free, because all poulty have naturally occuring hormones:

Initially labeling such as "No Hormones Added" was permitted, but since then the laws have changed. It is now illegal to add hormones to chicken, so any claim of "no added hormones" is misleading, since it is illegal to do so. Claims of "Natural" must also include an explanation of what natural means:

So here we have another over-zealous marketing campaign engineered by people who don't understand food marketing basics. My view is "Why Lie?". Nobody really cares, and the dopey people who believe that "natural" chicken is worth more can be bamboozled easily using legal marketing.

Also of interest is that the chilis that appear in the pictures on their website don't look like bird's eye chilies! Bird's eye, the chilies used in Peri-Peri sauce, are long and thin with a thick stem and cap. They're also very small; not nearly as big as a chicken leg. So unless they're very tiny chickens, the ones in the photos look like more like fresnos or ripe jalapeos.

********

It appears that this place is ready to open, but the marketing challenged Restaurant People haven't provided much info on what they're doing, aside from giving away free food during their grand opening. They have no web site or menu available, so 2 days before opening we have NOTHING but speculation. So far this is what I can cobble together from the bits of info their clunky PR people have leaked.

1) The "restaurant" is indeed a Nando's Clone; the concept revolves around sauces made with South African Birds-eye Chiles
2) The "restaurant" has a take out counter, hoping that people will buy pre-cooked chickens here instead of next door at Fresh Market
3) Sauces are available for sale.

When I first heard about this "concept" I picked up the full gamut of Nando's sauces to see what all of the commotion was about.

I initially tasted all of them on some grilled chicken without marinating them. The Garlic is disgusting. Some garlic powder on the chicken would be better. The other 3 sauces are about the same. None of them were particularly good, when comparing them to other hot sauces I've had.

I tried it several different ways. I tried saucing the chicken while it was on the grill. I tried marinating for a couple of hours and also marinating overnight. Frankly there wasn't much difference.

Now chicken always tastes better when it's flame broiled, but there are no flames allowed in the condo. But my opinon on Nando's sauces were that they aren't that good. There's nothing magical about the Peri-Peri chili. It's certainly not automatic goodness.

I also tried to make my own sauce, using scotch bonnet peppers and some citrus and spices. My sauce was FAR superior to Nando's. I just whizzed up some scotch bonnets, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar and some spices in a food processor and it was a much better taste than Nando's junk.

Now Im sure the bottled sauces aren't exactly the same as the sauce used in their restaurants, and they have some secret way of marinating them (that I'm sure SPATCH won't be able to reproduce), so the restaurant food is probably much better than what you can do just slapping some of their sauce on your chicken.

Now maybe the talented "Restaurant People" have come up with some unbelievable recipe, and maybe cooking the chickens in a professional flame broiler will be far superior than what I can do at home.

Here's the problem with this idea: Hot sauce on chicken is nothing new. The idea that the Peri-Peri peppers are so good that people will dump their favorite hot sauce (think Frank's, Srirachi or my favorite, Texas Pete's) to buy something created by the YOLO guys is a big stretch. Secondly, I don't think this stuff is as good as buffalo sauce (which is basically hot sauce and butter).

If they've come up with some recipe that's better than the 1000s of hot sauces available, good for them. But if you can't duplicate the restaurant quality product at home, then why would I buy THEIR sauce instead of another that I like?

Previous Rantings

Tim Petrillo and the Restaurant People are getting into the Chicken game; SPATCH will feature Peri-Peri chicken; a Portuguese grilled chicken preparation spiced with South African Bird's Eye Chiles (PERi-PERi). Peri-Peri (also Piri-Piri) have a Scoville heat index of 100,000. A Jalapeno pepper is 10,000.

My bet is this is a rip-off of Nando's, a Peri-Peri chicken chain with stores around DC and Chicago. What's ironic is that their restaurants sort of look like YOLO.

Notice the amateur photographer who caught himself taking the picture in the mirror. Crap like that happens sometimes unwittingly, but you photoshop it out after the fact.

Their last venue Fork and Balls attempted to rip-off the Meatball Shop, except the food wasn't nearly as good. Let's see if Boulukos can come up with a recipe that doesn't suck.

My view of restaurant names is that a clever name that has to be explained to people isn't a very clever name. The first Google hit on Spatch is the Urban Dictionary refers to female pubic hair. I think they're going for Spatchcock, which is a technique for split grilling a chicken.

This will be Petrillo's first attempt to try to get people into a restaurant for the food; the question is will people come in for a $13 half chicken when they can get a whole rotisserie chicken next door at Fresh Market for $7.

You can pick up Nando's sauces at Publix if you can't wait.

Comment Policy Add Comment
Administrator
Reply
The fake Yelp reviews didn't help; Spatch has closed.
Carmine
Reply
The one in flagler village not far behind always empty..
Craig
Reply
I think Stiles owns the building at this location so they don't have worry about a lease. Better to cut bait and try to find another tenant.
Robin
Reply
What difference does it make that Stiles owns the building?
Administrator
Reply
Stiles is a partner in The Restaurant People, so they likely don't have to worry about getting out of a lease.
Jen
Reply
Why are Yelp Elites giving obviously made up 5 star reviews of this place? Do they get money? Gift Cards? Sex? They're so obviously made up. More like advertisements than reviews .What do you think?
Jack
Reply
Yelp Elites have become a fake news squad. When you see them swoop in with glowing reviews you know the place is probably in trouble.
Administrator
Reply
From other reviews, It appears that the undercooked chicken might be a "feature".
Administrator
Reply
Word on the street is that they'll be opening another Spatch in the complex with Midici and Doc B's.
DB
Reply
Please no............
Kacey
Reply
"Blue" posted his usual 5 star review, so they must have bought advertising. You can always track the fake restaurants from his reviews. He's the area leader or something.
Jess
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His forced reviews are hard to read. You'd think after 1000 reviews he'd at least to be able to pretend to be objective.
Administrator
Reply
You can tell when someone tries to turn a negative to a positive that something is fishy "The sauce isn't hot but it's still good".
David
Reply
Mayo's review would be filtered by Yelp because it doesn't describe an actual consumer experience 😂
Trish
Reply
Michael Mayo is the dining "critic" at Sun-Sentinel now? How is that going to work out? lol
Administrator
Reply
They have to find someone willing to not tell the truth, so why not turn to a known entity on staff? They have to be a tool for the power players in Fort Lauderdale to justify their continued existence.

Case and point his ridiculous magazine article about this place. Staged photos, delusional quotes from the owners. It's not a review. It's a straight advertisement.

The so-called review confirms that Peter Boulukos is either a flat out liar or someone who knows nothing about food, because his statement that the chicken doesn't contain any hormones is simply impossible.
Alex
Reply
I like the way he's amazed by the repeat customers. It's a chicken joint in a shopping center. All of the customers are going to be people who shop at Fresh Market or who work nearby.
Omaha Gene
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3 Elites with stellar reviews today. Coincidence? Or has Tim broken out the Gift Cards?
gen
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Why the tip line on the bill if paying at the register for take out? Am I tipping the cashier? Why am I tipping a cashier? Odd
Mark
Reply
Not really odd, these days almost every casual / to-go restaurant does this.
Daredevil
Reply
Chickfila line out the door: 3.5 stars. This place: empty. 4.5 stars. Sound right?
Administrator
Reply
To be fair, they got Spring Chicken right. We can all agree that those people are going to lose their money on that idea.
Josh
Reply
Apt review and good comments. Just a note to admin; having recently moved from, Johannesburg to DC and now here (so a big Nando's fan!) i can tell you that Nando's never opened in CA or NYC. at least not yet. they are DC, VA and MD - also 10 opened in Chicago last year or so that I was travelling there...
going to give these Spatch people a try but from what i read here it smacks of a rip-off [of the concept]
Administrator
Reply
They had a store in Brooklyn Heights, which is NYC. It looks like it closed quickly, which is what happens when you're paying $150/ft rent and it doesn't work.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/nandos-brooklyn

CA = Canada. They have a Canadian Website: nandos.ca. They just opened one in Edmonton. They have 10 restaurants in Toronto alone.

Tori J
Reply
I don't like when there are employees watching you in a place like this. I feel like I have to ask if I'm allowed to get a refill on my drink. It's only 10 feet to the beverage area. Just leave me alone!
Not Tim
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12 filtered reviews, 6 unfiltered and none of them look real. When someone says "Everything was Delicious" you have to question the review. What are the chances of that at a Restaurant People restaurant?
Alex
Reply
Mayo and cheese on corn on the cob?
Annam
Reply
Why doesn't someone go review this place? Seems like everyone here is talking a lot about someplace that nobody here so far has even visited?
Administrator
Reply
What do people do before they try a restaurant? They read the website and follow the facebook page and try to figure out whether they want to try it or not. That's what we're doing.
Rob
Reply
So they gave away 300 free meals and it doesn't look like they got 1 actual review. More filtered than showing. This Fresh Market must be losing a fortune. There's never anyone in the place. Vegetables 3 days old.
Geri
Reply
I went to Fresh Market at about 2:30. This place was totally empty. Some grand opening. Wait on line at 11am for lunch to get a free piece of chicken.
Withheld
Reply
Imagine if your only choices were Outback, Carrabba's or Bonefish Grill. I give you Fort Lauderdale and The Restaurant People.
Administrator
Reply
There's a new Fake News story out that there's some partnership with a South African "restauranteur" who is actually a guy who runs a bunch of coffee shops. Biz Journal is fake news; a place for PR companies to "get press" without having to actually pitch anything.
Administrator
Reply
Ok, so apparently the chicken IS marinated; but they don't marinated in the Peri-Peri sauce. Maybe they soak them in salted water?
Jen
Reply
According to the fake reviews, this is the BEST RESTAURANT EVER!.
Administrator
Reply
And notice that not 1 person disclosed that they got the food for free, as required by law. And if Spatch buys advertising it's likely that the "I loved the free food" won't be filtered with their magic algorithm, because you know, Yelp is kind of a joke.
Jerry
Reply
There's only ONE question that matters? Is it as good as Chick-Fil-A?
John Baro
Reply
They tried to copy the meatball shop, how did that work out? Now they're trying Nando's. Makes you wonder the IQ of their investors.
Administrator
Reply
One big problem with a concept like this is that if it takes off, every restaurant in town is just going to put some version of "Peri-Peri Chicken" on their menu. The only way this is very successful is if they've actually come up with some wildly superior recipe that nobody can figure out. I came up with something I thought was better than Nando's on my first try. And it's not like there aren't 1000 hot sauces on the market to use to work out a recipe.
Lenny G
Reply
Nando's has great sides. The Portuguese rice is STUPENDOUS.
Administrator
Reply
Boulukos has bad sides at all of The Restaurant People restaurants. I mentioned to Petrillo that their sides sucked at YOLO and he said he didn't care. I'm surprised they don't have any feta or brocolli rabe.

Grilled Corn on the Cobb is a Premium side ($3.50). Because an ear of corn costs how much, $25 cents?
Jeremy T
Reply
They have some sort of grain side with feta. Bukolos can't get out of his own way.
Anthony Sindaco
Reply
That’s cuz he’s a jackass
He barely knows how to boil water but he is making bank
Go figure!
LJ
Reply
I found out that a whole chicken is $15.90, so it's about twice the cost of a rotisserie chicken.

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