Light Street Cafe is under new ownership as Rikki and Ellen Vaughn took over the popular Federal Hill restaurant at the end of February. The Vaughns, who live in Baltimore, own the Vaughn Corporation which has 122 restaurants and 10 food trucks around the country.
Rikki Vaughn, who was a mayoral candidate for Baltimore City before dropping out last week to endorse Thiru Vignarajah, said he was a regular of Light Street Cafe and is a big fan of the french toast. He became friends with former owner Chris Tippon and that eventually led to an offer to buy the cafe. Tippon left to pursue other business opportunities.
The Vaughns are keeping the same menu at Light Street Cafe which is known for its over-sized breakfast platters and lunch plates, but plan on renovating the space to give it a modern update with a new more “family-friendly” design. Rikki Vaughn says they also want to incorporate “more South Baltimore” into the design.
The seven-person staff remains at Light Street Cafe and a longtime employee was promoted to manager.
Right after taking over, the Vaughns donated laptops to Digital Harbor High School and have been conducting Saturday morning cleanups on Light St. “We’ve always reinvested in the same communities where our businesses are,” said Rikki Vaughn.
The Vaughns are considering expanding the hours at Light Street Cafe, which is currently open 6am to 4pm during the week and 6am to 3pm on the weekends. They have an interest in making it a late-night or 24-hour business, but want to factor everything in and consider the impact that it could have on the community before making a decision.
Rikki Vaughn, who grew up in East Baltimore, got his first job at McDonald’s when he was 14, was a manager at age 18, a vice president for the company at age 25, and wanted to own his own franchise at age 26. While McDonald’s did not give him that opportunity, he was able to become a franchisee for Checkers, and he continued to build his business from there.
Rikki Vaughn eventually had 26 Church’s Chicken locations in South Carolina, which he later sold, and expanded his business into Dunkin’ Donuts and KFC franchises.
Rikki Vaughn said he fell in love with the South Baltimore area while he was considering purchasing one of the Dunkin’ Donuts locations. While he did not add a Dunkin’ Donuts to his portfolio, his visits turned him onto the Light Street Cafe opportunity. The Vaughns, who currently live in Guilford, are also looking to move to the area.
With so much experience in the restaurant industry and fast food branches, Rikki Vaughn says he sees Light Street Cafe as a unique concept that could expand with additional locations. The Vaughns are currently looking into opening a Light Street Cafe in Annapolis.
About the Author: Kevin Lynch
Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O’s fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and “bar food” foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.