Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Hot Chicken Cafe, Hattie's, Coming to Midtown

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 5:41 AM

This space at Broadway and 19th, formerly Off the Grill, will soon be Hattie's Hot Chicken.
  • This space at Broadway and 19th, formerly Off the Grill, will soon be Hattie's Hot Chicken.
Hey, here's a dispatch from my current Food Biz column, which appears in the print edition of The City Paper, or online in the Nashville Post:

Nashville’s own spicy specialty, hot chicken — or as Travel + Leisure magazine called it, “Nashville-style napalm” — continues to thrive, and word continues to spread from coast to coast. Nashville has Prince’s and Bolton’s, Pepperfire and 400 Degrees, and a whole annual July 4 festival, the Music City Hot Chicken Fest, to help us count our blast-furnace blessings. (Brooklyn, N.Y., has Peaches HotHouse, but we’re not here to talk about Yankee ripoffs … er, I mean homages.)

Now Nashville’s bustling Midtown district is about to get its first outpost of fiery orange poultry. The father-and-son team of Nick Bishop, senior and junior, are working to open Hattie’s Hot Chicken in a space on Broadway behind Gigi’s Cupcakes.

The Bishops already have a restaurant, the Cool Springs meat-and-three called quite simply Bishop’s, which opened in 2007. I reached Nick Jr. there by phone and he told me about the plans for the new Midtown place.

“We both always loved hot chicken, like Prince’s and Bolton’s, so we started playing around with it here [at Bishop’s]. We put it on the board, made it to order for people, and watched it grow.”

In planning Hattie’s, he said, “We wanted to be able to offer all of it, more Southern traditional sides like collards and pinto beans. … We’ll have hot chicken with different levels of heat, plus regular fried chicken and grilled chicken, because I think this area calls for it.”

Hattie’s will also offer a couple other amenities you don’t find at most hot chicken joints, like outdoor seating and beer. “We think it will be a nice draw,” Bishop said.

The Bishops are generational restaurant folks. The elder Bishop is the son of Gene Bishop, who was the CEO of the Morrison’s Cafeteria chain. Nick Sr. worked for that company for many years, including its foray into hospital food service, which is what brought the family to Nashville 20 years ago. Nick the elder retired from that a while back and started Bishop’s.

“Growing up in Nashville, it’s been really cool to watch the culinary scene take off,” said Nick Jr., who lives in the 12South neighborhood. Now he and his dad hope to contribute to that scene and help spread the gospel of hot chicken.

Hattie’s Hot Chicken, 1816 Broadway, Suite B, is expected to open in mid- to late July.

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