This father son team cultivates a gathering spot as hot as its chicken
Ten thirty a.m. on a Thursday morning and the line at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken on Charlotte Pike has already gone free range, the patrons winding around the outside of the building. This day the line happens to consist of older men, but that’s not always the case. In fact, the crowd at this hot chicken hang out is as eclectic as its menu is not. A recent tableau revealed a table of bikers, a table of cops, and a table of Rastafarians – all communing peacefully through an absorption of chicken. Coexist deliciously.
The visionaries of this tasty vision are the Bishops, Nick Sr. and his son, Nick Jr. The pair were very intentional when they outfitted their newest restaurant on Charlotte Pike with picnic tables and high top community counters. Just as intentionally, they chose Charlotte Pike over the hyper-hip 12th South area. Not that there's anything wrong with hyper-hipness, but – for Nick and Nick – their restaurant is all about community and they wanted all slices of Nashville to mix and mingle at their new Hattie B’s.
But, while the clientele is varied, the menu is not. The Nicks' knack is sticking to what they know, and what they know is chicken: perfectly spiced, crispy hot chicken served atop white bread with pickles. Alongside appear such traditional Southern sides as pimento mac & cheese, crinkle cut fries, black-eyed pea salad, and collard greens, all of which bespeak the Nicks' Southern roots and their history with Morrison's. Nick Sr.’s father, Gene Bishop, was the CEO of the Morrison’s Cafeteria chain, working his way up to the top spot from his beginning as a dishwasher. Gene passed that work ethic onto Nick Sr. who, in turn, imparted lessons of effort, dedication and leadership to his son, Nick Jr., who now manages Hattie B’s.
However, Nick Jr. had to see the world before following his dad’s footsteps, studying in New York and Paris before returning to Nashville to manage singer-songwriter John Prine. Eventually, Nick Jr. ended up at the family’s first restaurant, Bishop’s Meat and Three in Franklin. There, behind the steam table of traditional Southern dishes, the idea for a hot chicken place took shape as the dish had already become a staple at Bishop’s. It became a reality with their first Hattie B’s which was an instant success in Midtown in 2012. With Nashville’s explosive growth and its ascension to culinary stardom, the restaurant expanded to their second location on Charlotte Avenue within two years. The new Hattie B’s set up shop in what was once a Krystal but has clearly gotten better. The refurbished building with its sleek white walls and garage doors that open to the patio provides a cool place for hot chicken. In any case, the Nicks' knack for down home food and local beers is a winning recipe for people of all tastes coexisting deliciously.
HATTIE B’S HOT CHICKEN
5209 Charlotte Ave | 615-712-7137
112 19th Ave South | 615-678-4794
For a video of Nick Jr discussing Hattie B’s go to ediblenashville.com
Hattie B’s Pimento Macaroni and Cheese
This popular macaroni and cheese starts with a classic white sauce and plenty of extra sharp cheddar cheese. At the restaurant they uses pimentos from a jar, but with the abundance of red peppers this time of year, we couldn’t resist roasting our own and adding them in place of the pimentos. It’s good both ways.
8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
4 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
8 ounces grated extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 roasted red bell peppers, skin removed and chopped or 2 1/2 ounce jar pimentos (juice and all)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Combine milk, red pepper, salt and black pepper in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Do not boil.
2. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add flour, whisk well. Cook 5 minutes. Add to hot milk mixture, stirring until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add 6 ounces cheese and pimentos to sauce and whisk until cheese is melted.
3. Combine pasta and sauce and spoon into a 2-quart baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Remove from heat, stir, sprinkle with remaining 2 ounces cheese and return to oven for 5 minutes.
ROASTING BELL PEPPER S
To roast bell peppers, preheat oven to broil or 450F. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Place on foil lined sheet pan and flatten each half with your hand. Place in oven and roast until blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and wrap peppers up in foil to steam. Let stand until cool. Remove peppers from foil and rub off charred skin. Chop peppers. Proceed with recipe.
Heat Up Your Chicken at Home
The Bishop’s aren’t about to divulge their recipe. However here are a couple locally made products that will help you heat up your chicken!
Per their website: Coop's is not dip, nor a sauce, but a paste, a dress, a flavor varnish from hell that turns anyone's fried chicken into true, 100% authentic, Nashville Style Hot Chicken. Melt the Coops paste and brush on fried chicken.
JMTHOMASON HOT CHICK EN SEASONING BLEND:
This fiery blend is perfect for those who want a scorching poultry for their palate. Blended with garlic, cayenne pepper, and onion, it combines potent flavor with a slow Southern burn. Rub blend all over your favorite cut of chicken and fry 'til fully cooked.