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The Nashville Family That Invented Hot Chicken Arrives in LA With Hotville

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Hotville Chicken opens in Baldwin Hills this Tuesday

Fried chicken plate from Hotville Chicken in Baldwin Hills
Hotville Chicken
Leslie Rodriguez Photography for Feastly

Arguably, Nashville’s most popular food export is its signature hot chicken. Although LA’s hot chicken scene has exploded in recent years, the majority of hot chicken restaurants have no direct roots to this Southern city or its food culture. But as of Tuesday, everything changes with the introduction of Hotville Chicken by chef/owner Kim Prince. She’s the niece of Andre Prince Jeffries, who owns both Prince’s Hot Chicken Shacks in Nashville.

Hotville Chicken arrives as hot chicken keeps expanding, with Howlin’ Rays breaking Postmates last week, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Boneyard Bistro, Huckleberry, Dave’s Hot Chicken, Crawford’s, and Electric Owl bringing respectable hot chicken to the SoCal region. Any leap from from pop-up to storefront is a challenge, so Prince partnered with seasoned restaurateur Gregory Dulan of Dulan’s Soul Food to bring Hotville to light.

Eater spoke with Prince about her position the first family member to transport this iconic dish outside of Tennessee, and how she sees Hotville Chicken’s place in LA’s highly competitive hot chicken market.

What Prince thinks of her competitors

“I love Howlin’ Rays. Johnny Ray Zone’s service method revolutionized Nashville hot chicken. He studied it and gives it recognition. I went to the grand opening of his truck on Abbot Kinney, and he was serving hot chicken with bread on the bottom, a quarter piece and pickles on top.”

“We can’t worry about competition though. Nashvillians are proud of what this bird has done for the city. You better bring it, and not just spicy heat. It needs to have flavor, ambience, and make them want to belong to it. Howlin’ Ray’s delivered very well on that. Just this past weekend with (friends and family) coming into Hotville, even the to go orders, they sit and hang out/linger awhile. That tells me that we’re doing it right. That’s what Hotville’s supposed to do.”

What to order

“Chicken that’s West Coast plain, Cali mild, Music City medium, hot, and Nashville hot. The chicken’s got that ember of glowing red like these walls. There’s fried fish too, baked beans, and lemon sour cream pound cake.”

Prince’s LA connection, and her father’s LA vision for Nashville hot chicken

In the 1980s, Prince’s father moved her family to Lancaster/Palmdale. “My dad would talk about how LA could be a hotspot for Nashville hot chicken, and setup a hot chicken stand at the Lancaster Poppy Festival in the 80s,” says Prince. “People were all over it then. My dad knows how to put a hurtin’ on it. He said, (founder) “Uncle Thornton made it hot.” My dad would know, he worked alongside him. That’s his advice: “Make it hot. Make sure you’re playing country music.”

Prince trains employees as family members

“My nephew is working here too. It’s a family business, and employees are family to us. Hotville Chicken workers have the word ‘cousin’ in their job title. First cousin is at the register, second cousins are expediters, and so on. This is our work family. I look forward to people coming in and meeting all our cousins. In our training program, we even train our employees how to say ‘y’all.’”

How to fully experience Hotville Chicken, according to Kim Prince

“To feel the warmth and be at home as soon as they walk in. Take a load off. I want them to achieve some peace and balance and a full belly. I want people to be “satisfried,” and come in with your stretchy pants on. (Football) will be on. I want to be the local watering hole while we keep the deep fryers cranking, and hear the grease popping while the crew baptizes the bird.”

Starting Tuesday, Hotville Chicken hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.

A mural at Hotville Chicken restaurant in Baldwin Hills
Hotville Chicken mural with the Prince family tree
Mona Holmes

Hotville Chicken. 4070 Marlton Ave., Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw, CA

Hotville Chicken

4070 Marlton Avenue, , CA 90008 (323) 792-4835 Visit Website

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