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Howlin Rays Scraps Culver City Food Hall Plans, Eyeing Westside Standalone Instead

The hot chicken phenoms are still heading west, eventually

A bright red spicy chicken and fries order from Howlin’ Ray’s.
Howlin’ Ray’s
Jakob Layman
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Impossibly popular hot chicken star Howlin’ Ray’s is taking its expansion slowly. The hours-long lines still run daily in Chinatown, but owners Johnny Ray and Amanda Zone have been cautiously expanding service hours and production capacity while eyeing locations around the region for a new second home. For a time they seemed to have found a suitable space inside a Culver City food hall, but now Eater has learned that deal is no longer happening.

Reached for comment, the Zones confirmed that indeed they have vacated a proposal for a shared space that’s currently being built in Culver City. Instead, they’re striking out on their own.

That’s not to say those Westside-ish Howlin’ Ray’s dreams are dead. Far from it, in fact. Amanda Zone tells Eater that the plan is still to open in or around Culver City proper, just with a space meant all for them, one that will allow the kitchen and staff to scale as needed. It’s a valid concern for Howlin’ Ray’s, considering they’ve already expanded the production space in Chinatown and moved into dinner hours, but still face lines every single day.

As for where (or when) that new space will materialize, there’s nothing set in stone just yet. The team is still actively working on scouting new spaces while also running one of the most popular restaurants in the city and doing tons of collaborations with everything from clothing brands to the LA Dodgers. In the meantime, it’s full steam ahead in Chinatown, where the enthusiastic team there continues to push out hundreds of searing chicken sandwiches every single day.