Why don’t you first start off with telling us who you are and what your business is.
“I am Tiffany Wiley and I am the co-owner of the restaurant Riko’s Kickin’ Chicken with my husband Mariko Wiley.”
What made you chose to relocate your business to the Medical District?
“Actually, it was something that happened while we were working at a Youth Villages event at the FedEx Forum. We were down there and the lines were crazy busy, but the owner of what is now Riko’s building was there. He had been to our food truck 3 or 4 times to try the food and liked it; so when he saw us in line he asked us where our restaurant was located because he wanted to come and bring his family and get some food. We told him we didn’t have a restaurant and he was like, “you guys need a building, I have one, let me show it to you”. Long story short, when we left the event we came to this building. We looked around and realized we had nothing. We didn’t have a plan at all. We thought about maybe doing a second food truck, but not a restaurant. It was harder for us to imagine it becoming this because the inside looked so different than we have it now. Were thinking “This is going to be a very long journey”. We still decided to do it and we signed the lease, and wa-lah it was ours! It has been great ever since then! Honestly, we didn’t even realize we were in the Medical District, that never crossed our mind. It hit us when we opened up and our clients were coming from the hospital and saying they were glad we opened up here in the Medical District. That was when we looked around and realized, we were right in the middle of the District. It was a really great thing!”
So, you guys have a restaurant and still have the food truck? How was the transition from food truck to here?
“Oh yes, we still bring the food truck out and of course the transition was an experience. It is really two different lifestyles. I tell everyone in our food truck 101 class that a food truck and running a restaurant are two very different things. With the food truck you are pretty much staying out for a couple hours and then you are gone. With a restaurant you are open and you have all sorts of different people coming in at different times, and you have to really, you know, honor your hours. With a food truck it’s like “Oh hey it is raining, we’re gone.” You can’t do that with a restaurant, you have to be really thick skinned and stay open the hours that it says on your door. It is a little more stressful having a storefront. Inventory is extremely different. On the truck you have what you have, and here you just don’t know what you are going to need. We have people walk in all the time and ask for 500 wings or 200 wings, 3 pounds of fries and 60 burgers. You just never know so you have to be prepared.”
We know that you have worked with MMDC on some incentives and projects. Why don’t you talk about ways in which MMDC and Rikos has worked together? Can you shed some light on how you got those, and the effect it has had?
“I pretty much take advantage of everything that MMDC has to offer. For one, you guys are like my new best friends. Everything revolves around the Medical District and you all are always the first one to know about all the things that are going on. So, I always take advantage of the incentives. For example Memfix, or when we were first opening up I met Vonehsa who told me about all the things MMDC could help us with. She came down, introduced herself, and really pulled me out of my shell. She made me walk around to other businesses in the area and get to know other people. That was something I probably wouldn’t have done on my own and it helped me to get to know everyone and network with the other businesses around me. Another example was Walk to Lunch Day a little while back, and that was amazing. I love the whole concept because a lot of our customers, they walk to get their food. So, it was a really great thing to be a part of. We saw some of our regular customers, but also a lot of new customers that have been wanting to come by and maybe hadn’t had the chance yet. It was great!”
Do you guys have anything you are known for or any weekly specials that students and employees might want to know about?
“Yes, we have daily deals and amazing lunch specials. Lunchtime is a very big part of our business so we always try and keep specials going for everyone and every budget. We also cater. We try to just meet you where you are on your budget so we don’t have a specific menu for that. We just want to build around you. We have great family deals for dinner, too. We are a very family oriented restaurant so we have great deals, because we get it!”
How have you seen the rebranding of this area as Madison Heights affect the way people interact with this part of town?
“I think with the Madison Heights name it has been able to bring the whole area, with all of its businesses, more united. It inspired me to do the Madison Heights Cluckfest and to bring us, as a neighborhood, together for a great cause. I am also bringing in food trucks so we can kind of show people that Madison Heights is here, and look at all the great things we have to offer. So, I love the name and I know that all of the other neighbors do, too.”
Going off that, could you tell us a little more about Cluckfest?
“So, us here at Riko’s and the other businesses are always trying to think of ideas to bring people to Madison Heights. I think one of the best ways is food. So, I know food trucks always brings everybody out. They say were going to be at Cluckfest and their followers will, you know, follow. That will hopefully make people want to eat and walk around and shop. Everyone around here is going to decorate to show they are open and supporting the event. With Cluckfest, I also wanted to give back. I know school is coming back up and what better way to help parents out other than giving away school supplies. While we have everyone together, why not? Bring some paper, bring some pencils, and give back. The whole idea came with wanting to bring attention to the area. They know we are here, but it is easy to pass by. Even those that know we are here, I don’t want them to stop exploring at Riko’s. I want them to eat, go shop, go get a haircut next door, go get incense from EBBO’s, or stuff for your home at the antique store. You know just really walk around. At the end of the day, we want people to come down here and have a good time. Our goal is stuff 100 backpacks, so we hope we can get a lot of people out here.”
Rikos Kickin’ Chicken is located in Madison Heights at 1329 Madison Ave. They are open Tuesday - Thursday 11:30AM to 8:00PM and Friday - Saturday 11AM to 10PM. They are closed Sunday and Monday. You can follow them on Facebook or Instagram to learn more.