NEW ORLEANS - Shreveport native Richard Washington spent nearly half his life cooking and selling chicken wings, and conquering the New Orleans market had been his longtime goal, according to his loved ones.
He finally embarked on that challenge Friday, opening one of his Wing Taxi restaurants at 539 Toulouse Street in the French Quarter. But Washington won’t ever find out if Wing Taxi hits it big in the Crescent City.
After work Sunday, the 48-year-old entrepreneur was shot to death on the back patio of his Marigny home, leaving his friends and family heartbroken and stunned.
While authorities haven’t officially released Washington’s identity, his daughter Alexis Dixon said it was her father who was found shot in his back patio in the 2200 block of Burgundy Street at about 7:40 p.m. Sunday. Paramedics brought Washington — who had just returned home from work when he was shot — to University Medical Center. But the staff there pronounced him dead late that same night.
Police haven’t publicly named any suspects or discussed a possible motive in the slaying. The only description of a potential killer is a man clad in a hooded sweatshirt whom a neighbor saw walking through the back of Washington’s home after the fatal gunfire erupted, Dixon said.
Whatever the case, the shooting marked a brutal end to an entrepreneurial dream that began in the kitchen of a home Washington shared in college with his best friend, Patrick Stewart. There, Washington perfected his techniques and recipes for making the chicken wings he delivered to customers. Sometimes, Stewart told WWL-TV, Washington’s daughter would accompany him on those early runs for Wing Taxi, which he formally established roughly 20 years ago.
“He just had a passion for cooking … wings,” Stewart said of Washington, nicknamed “Snapper” for the way he aggressively ate peas growing up in Shreveport’s Cooper Road area. “He loved what he did.”
Washington eventually opened Wing Taxi locations in downtown Shreveport, his hometown’s mall, Dallas and Monroe. His New Orleans location’s grand opening was two days before his death, and he had plans to get another Wing Taxi spot up and running in Houston.
Washington, who had also previously run a Creole restaurant, particularly enjoyed providing jobs to people in his community through his businesses.
“His business wasn’t about making him rich,” Stewart said. “He (thought) he had to provide. And what better way to provide than cooking wings?”
Dixon said that her dad would tell her he wanted to leave the business to her, so her children could one day inherit it.
“He never stopped working,” Dixon said. “He was big on having something to pass down.”
Stewart said he hopes someone will come forward and help police arrest whoever killed Washington.
“He was so undeserving of this,” Stewart said.