Howlin’ Ray’s, the hot chicken specialist that boasts some of the longest waits in the city, plans to open an expansion to the Westside some time next year in 2018. There’s no set location yet, but there’s an offer in place somewhere in Culver City.
It’s the first major news of a real Howlin’ Ray’s expansion since they announced they would increase their Chinatown footprint a while back. However, here’s a secret floating around the Los Angeles restaurant zeitgeist lately: The lines at Howlin’ Ray’s fried chicken shop in Chinatown actually haven’t been that bad.
Sure wait times can still tick into the hours, but they’re more likely hovering right around one hour — and in some cases less — during weekday afternoons especially. There hasn’t been a slowing down of hype, tourists, or local lovers of the Nashville-style hot chicken, though. If anything, the place is busier than it’s ever been.
Owners Johnny and Amanda Zone have been focusing lately on streamlining the service and ordering aspects of the small Chinatown shop as part of a larger ramp-up to their upcoming expansion into the space next door. Some city delays have kept the Chinatown growth from happening as quickly as they or building overseer George Yu might like, so in the interim the Zones have been finding ways to integrate a second cashier to speed up ordering, at least.
The team is still on track for a late December/early 2018 opening of their expanded space, though it will ultimately look a touch different than initially proposed. There won’t be extended counter seating into the widened kitchen sadly, but beer and wine and more overall room are still in the works. The larger kitchen and enhanced ordering process with dual ordering stations should also enable the team to open for lunch on Tuesdays, and tinker with longer, later hours overall.
In spite of this expansion new, for now, it’s still just Chinatown and those lines that snake past popular shops like Endorffeine, Chego (with its new burrito on the menu), and LASA’s takeout window — but 2018 promises to be a very big year for Howlin’ Ray’s.