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Howlin’ Ray’s Hot Chicken Will Double Their Space in Chinatown

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The longest wait in LA might become a little shorter

Howlin’ Ray’s fried chicken sandwich
Yelp

Massively good news for fans of Howlin’ Ray’s, the Nashville-style hot chicken specialists with a cultish Chinatown following. Owners Johnny and Amanda Zone confirmed last night on their Instagram page that the tiny Far East Plaza restaurant will be expanding into a next door space, effectively doubling their current square footage. Oh, and there’s much more in the works as well.

The Zones have long been looking for a way to seamlessly grow their operation, which currently sports lines of up to four hours long at peak times (not that it’s turning the critics away). Their small storefront on the ground floor of Chinatown’s busiest open air mall simply can’t handle the volume that Howlin’ Ray’s fans have come to demand, so the search has been on for some time now to not only find a second permanent location elsewhere in the city, but to grow the one they’ve already got.

In fact, the frustration that some customers have felt regarding the long lines and often arduous process of getting inside the actual restaurant is a primary reason for the growth, says Zone in the below Instagram post. Ever the friendly face at the restaurant, Johnny Zone certainly seems keen to keep his clientele happy, without sacrificing quality. Here’s the full statement:

It's difficult to express the gratitude we feel for everything you all have given us through this journey so far. We started this company with only one intent, to bring authentic Nashville Hot Chicken to LA, the city we love. We believed in our city, that we live in the greatest city in America, one of the greatest in the world and that YOU would see the magic in hot chicken the way that we did when we first discovered it. You all backed us up like nothing we could have ever even imagined and we will never forget it. Many of you have expressed your thoughts and frustrations about the long lines and the excessive wait times to get your hot chicken. When we opened the restaurant, we were so happy each day that people were actually showing up to try the chicken, we never in a million years thought there would be 2 or 3 hour lines to order a year later. We've been working on ways to make things faster, more efficient without sacrificing quality or consistency which is and always will be our number one priority. Ultimately, the size of our space limits the ability to stay open later without selling out of chicken or adding another cashier without swamping the kitchen. It's frustrating, but trust us when we say we are listening. In a recent development, our friends and neighbors Amy & Michelle at Oriental Palace have made the difficult decision to retire. Although it's bittersweet (they've been extremely supportive of us and we absolutely ❤ them), this has given us an opportunity to expand our Chinatown location to more than double our current amount of space. After much consideration, we've decided to move forward with the expansion. We will offer more dining space, beer and wine, public restrooms, double the kitchen space multiple cashiers as well as a pick up window! After the expansion is complete we will begin the process of opening our second location and from there who knows what the future holds. We thank you for helping us make it through our first year and we hope there are many more years of Nashville Hot Chicken in LA in the future. Much ❤, Johnny & Amanda

A post shared by HOWLIN' RAY'S (@howlinrays) on

That’s where the former Oriental Palace comes in. The owners of that space have decided to retire, the Howlin’ Ray’s post says, allowing the hot chicken team to jump into a lease. That new look will allow the dining area to double, while adding multiple cashiers, a restroom to call their own, and even beer and wine. They will also be expanding the kitchen setup and adding a takeout window for simpler orders more suited to grab and go dining (like that famous fried chicken sandwich, maybe).

No word on when the expansion will officially occur, but it’s easy to assume the sooner the better. The Howlin’ Ray’s team has every reason to grow effectively but quickly, and the customer support to help them get there. It’s hard to believe the Zones are only just now celebrating their one year anniversary of being at Far East Plaza in the first place, given how big of a figure they’ve become on the local scene there already.


Watch: Sampling LA's Hottest Hot Chicken at Howlin' Ray's

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