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Let’s be honest, certain things are just better hot: a cup of java, summer pool parties, homemade soup, strapping delivery men. But nothing tops that list higher than hot chicken. To be more specific, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken.

Before we go into detail about beloved Southern darling Hattie B’s — a family business run by a father-and-son duo, which started in Nashville in 2012 and eventually opened doors throughout the Southeastern region — we have to first decipher what “hot chicken” actually is.

Though there’s no official definition, this fiery yet delicious fried bird was born in Nashville and became a regional hit for its slow build of heat, created by marinating the chicken in a paste of melted spices (sometimes the breading is also spiced), depending on where you go. The point is hot chicken isn’t for the faint of heart, although Hattie B’s does take pity on its customers by offering six levels of heat — from Southern (no heat) and Mild (a touch of heat) to the insanity-inducing, tongue-punishing Shut the Cluck Up!!! (Warning: You may need caution tape for your tongue afterwards).

CAUTION: Hattie B's chicken is H-O-T! Image: Joseph Woodley

CAUTION: Hattie B’s chicken is H-O-T! Image: Joseph Woodley

To be clear, this is some of the tastiest hot chicken you'll ever put in your mouth!

To be clear, this is some of the tastiest hot chicken you’ll ever put in your mouth! Image: Joseph Woodley

Hattie B’s didn’t invent the cult-like obsession that is hot chicken, but they did perfect their own delectable recipe and bring hot chicken to the masses with a modern take (including their mouth-watering tenders and local brewery partnerships), value-driven concept and a vibe that family comes first.

Hattie B’s is a father-son operation run by Nick Bishop Sr. and Nick Bishop Jr. The business of food runs strong in the Bishop family, starting with patriarch Gene Bishop, who worked his way up years ago as CEO of Southern chain Morrison’s Cafeterias (which eventually acquired Knoxville-based Ruby Tuesday chain). Hospitality runs in the Bishop blood and certainly hasn’t skipped any generation — Nick Bishop Sr. started his own business, the popular Bishop’s Meat and Three in Franklin, Tennessee. And like his father before him, Nick Bishop, Jr., saw how food makes people happy and wanted in … and Hattie B’s was born. (The restaurant’s name comes from Nick Bishop Sr.’s grandmother and mother, as well as Nick Bishop Jr.’s daughter.)

Nick Bishop, Sr., (left) and Nick Bishop, Jr., in the newest Hattie B’s location in Atlanta

“When working with family, there’s a level of trust and comfort in that,” says Nick Bishop, Jr. “We knew hot chicken was unique to Nashville, and we saw an opportunity to share our fried chicken, which was great, with the rest of the world.”

And with three generations of food/hospitality experts in the family, quality was at the top of the Bishops’ to-do list when it came to creating the ultimate hot chicken experience. “The look, feel, vibe are key to us,” says Nick Bishop, Sr. “We truly want people to have an incredible experience.”

An “incredible experience” starts with the food, and Hattie B’s knows what the people want. The hot chicken, offered at varying heat levels, comes in lots of forms — thigh quarters, legs, wings, breasts. The most popular item on the menu is the tenders (which you can get grilled), which taste great with a local pint to cool off the flames of their recipe. Each Hattie B’s partners with the local breweries in its corresponding city; for example, Atlanta, the newest Hattie B’s location, serves beer from Terrapin, Sweetwater, Arches, Scofflaw, Orpheus, Creative Comfort and more. If you’d rather devour your calories than drink them, there are also some killer sides — Southern greens, pimento mac & cheese, red skin potato salad, creamy coleslaw — as well as their heavenly banana pudding and peach cobbler.

Banana pudding, mac & cheese, potato salad ... all of the Southern side favorites can be found on the Hattie B's menu. Image: Joseph Woodley

Banana pudding, mac & cheese, potato salad … all of the Southern side favorites can be found on the Hattie B’s menu. Image: Joseph Woodley

Hattie B’s opened its first brick-and-mortar eatery at 19th Avenue South and Broadway in midtown Nashville, followed by the West Nashville restaurant in 2014, Birmingham in 2016, another Nashville eatery in 2017, Memphis in April 2018 and most recently Atlanta last month. As the brand grows, Nick Bishop, Sr., and Nick Bishop, Jr., are strategic in their next move for this family-run business.

“We want to grow our restaurants and maintain the culture and take pride in what we do,” says Nick Sr. “I want to maintain a humble business spirit.”

Though people in Atlanta may not know the history and details about hot chicken, they know good food when it comes to town. Local customers now have a chance to sink their teeth into Hattie B’s juicy chicken when they visit the Little Five Points neighborhood, which hosts the delectable chicken joint at 299 Moreland Ave.

So whether you are Hot!, Damn Hot!! or just choose to eat your chicken that way, Hattie B’s is THE stop to fill up on all that clucking goodness.

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Read more about the fascinating History Behind the South’s “It” Dish, Nashville Hot Chicken. Read on!

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