You can find Prince’s Hot Chicken in a beat up old strip mall in East Nashville. Nashville Hot Chicken has become quite the phenomenon in recent years, but Prince’s has been around since The Great Depression. Going there for lunch on a Thursday afternoon is one of the finest social experiments you’ll ever see. It’s not only the food that’s great. The people watching is, as well.
Thursdays are the only day of the week you can get four chicken fingers and bread for $6.00. When we got there near noon on a Thursday, the line was almost to the door. There are about seven tables in the restaurant and every one of them was full. As people waited in line they chatted, or waited patiently. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Who wouldn’t be? They were about to eat Nashville Hot Chicken.
The restaurant doesn’t exactly seem like the cleanest place. But they scored a 93 on their last Health Inspection. In fact, the place is so popular that the two guys in line behind us drove all the way from Chattanooga to have their tongues burn with cayenne goodness. Tourists took photos in front of the window outside. Mixed in were locals who are obvious regulars.
And everyone got along. There was no pushing or shoving. People of all political persuasions and ethnicities enjoyed their chicken — and each other — just the same. When tables became available there was an unwritten rule that the people waiting first would get it. Some even shared tables. An older out-of-town couple from one place occupied a table with a younger out-of-town couple from another. There were obvious Christian references all over the walls and the t-shirts workers were wearing.
We probably waited an hour from the time we entered the place until we began eating our chicken. It was worth every minute. The food was great (I’m still sweating!) and the people were pleasant.
Nothing fancy. Just good food. Decent customer service. Hard working people putting it all together. And friends, neighbors, and tourists sharing a local delicacy.
Is Nashville Hot Chicken what it’s going to take to mend some of the fences we’ve built? If so, maybe there should be a Prince’s Hot Chicken in every city.
We could use a whole lot more of that good-natured spirit in our country today. What do you say we make a concerted effort to do it ourselves, even without the chicken?
Where have you seen people of all persuasions getting along?