Kim Prince will close her genre-defining Crenshaw restaurant Hotville Chicken this month, three years and one day after first debuting at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall. Prince, a Nashville native and direct descendant of the original creators of Nashville-style hot chicken, had struggled to find her footing in a crowded LA hot chicken market that often failed to connect her Prince family name to the founders of the food a century ago. Still, despite setbacks, a pandemic, and a recent break-in at the 2,800-square-foot restaurant — which saw two safes stolen as burglars broke through several walls of the structure — Prince says that she’s looking forward to a new future for Hotville Chicken, even if it means partially looking back.
“This is how I started, as a pop-up,” says Prince by phone. “So now I’m going back out to the people.”
Hotville Chicken will close its doors on December 18 in order to transition full-time to its co-branded food truck DulanVille, with partner Greg Dulan of famed LA soul food restaurant Dulan’s. The truck will continue to service South Los Angeles and Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, and Leimert Park, while also attending events and hosting other stops around Los Angeles. Prince first began Hotville Chicken in 2017 as a pop-up stand around Los Angeles and Long Beach before transitioning to the restaurant in December 2019.
“I am optimistic and full of ideas,” says Prince. “I’m coming up with new ways of getting things done.” That includes hosting a series of talks (titled affectionately Burning Tales) on the Prince family legacy and the real story of hot chicken around the city. Prince herself remains upbeat if a little tired. “I’m not going to complain; there are so many lessons that I’ve learned.”
While business has steadily improved since the summer, Prince says planned changes at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall had already put a timetable in place for her to close the restaurant, so shuttering now feels like part of a longer plan than a sad goodbye. “The wins and losses are all working together for something greater,” says Prince.
Prince maintains close ties with the mall’s new owners and believes that there will once again be a Hotville Chicken at the property after its redevelopment is complete. “We like what they’re planning,” she says of what she’s seen for the mall’s new look and feel. “They want to make this a big economic footprint right on Crenshaw Boulevard.”
Prince, a longtime Crenshaw local, says that in the meantime the truck will continue to operate in front of businesses, at schools, and at events in the neighborhood, adding that Dulan’s soul food will also be available from the truck. “There’s no end to what we can do,” she says. “We’re always thinkin’ chicken.” The final day of service at Hotville Chicken is December 18, 2022.