Supply chain issues affecting hot chicken restaurants

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – If you ask someone to name the quintessential Nashville food, chances are they’ll say Nashville hot chicken. But supply chain shortages are starting to impact Music City’s staple dish.

“Every other week we come here. It’s a good place,” said Chris Lindsey, a customer of Slow Burn Hot Chicken in Hendersonville. “I just don’t want to taste the pain.”

The only thing warmer than the temperature outside might be what’s on Chris and Steve’s plate.

“There’s a really good heat, but you can still taste after, so that’s good,” said Steve Cunningham, another customer.

Locals and tourists alike can’t seem to get enough of Joyce Reed’s hot offerings in Nashville. And while that should be a joy for Joyce, it quickly becomes a burden.

“It’s been…really tough,” Reed said.

Hot chicken restaurants across our region are telling us the same thing: they struggle to keep enough chicken in stock, even when buying from multiple vendors.

“A bit empty, but we had enough for today,” Reed said, standing inside a fairly empty freezer. “Some sellers are going up day to day, so we have to absorb that cost because we’re not going to increase our prices day to day.”

It looks like this poultry panic reflects other supply chain issues you’ve heard about.

“It’s not even necessarily that the chickens aren’t available; people may not be available to make and process the chicken,” Reed explained.

Many vendors struggle to find staff and travel, and pass those costs on to restaurants.

“It hurts, and it set us back dealing with these vendors,” she said.

So, to save money, Reed now picks up the chicken herself, instead of delivering it.

“Yeah, those guns get soft boxes and everything — yeah, we do,” Reed said.

But sometimes even that isn’t enough to keep their prices low, so they get creative.

“We’re trying to adjust our menu to feel the impact and not really the customer. We’ll change our menu or make some things special,” she said.

Ultimately, Joyce hopes she and other small businesses can find a way to band together.

“We have to learn how to partner with small businesses and support each other, in the grand scheme of things, to grow, to survive, to thrive,” Reed said.

She hopes the hottest thing on the menu in Nashville keeps flying off people’s plates.

“I hope they continue to have chicken because we will support them,” she said.

Party Fowl tells NewsChannel 5 that they are also struggling to cut supply costs, but they don’t have a supply problem. At least not yet.

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