First reported today in Eater Chicago, signs are up at a new outpost of iconic Chicago chain Harold’s Chicken in a strip mall just west of Irving Park Road and Southport Avenue. The space, formerly a dry cleaners, is across the street from the Chicago City Soccer Club and blocks from Graceland Cemetery.
“Fried chicken with mild sauce: A favorite among locals and celebrities, Harold’s dishes out what many consider to be the best fried chicken in Chicago. Mild sauce is also a condiment that’s taken a mythic importance, a sweet and tangy liquid that locals abide by. The popular chain oversees dozens of locations in the area, with a majority on the South Side. The chicken’s distinctive flavor is a result of being cooked to order in vegetable oil and beef tallow. And even though quality can vary from store to store, a Harold’s half-chicken dinner covered in mild sauce is a quintessential Chicago meal.”
And from ABC 7 Chicago:
Found throughout the region – including store #19 in Dyer, Indiana – the once late-night fried chicken joint has grown to 45 locations, all started back in 1950 by Harold Pierce.
“He was an entrepreneur. The first location I believe was Kenwood, in the Bronzeville area,” said his daughter, Kristen Pierce, now the company’s CEO.
Kristen has taken over the business, overseeing the expansion to other states.
Chickens are marinated overnight, dunked briefly in a liquid mixture containing milk, then dredged in seasoned flour before getting fried for about 15 minutes in vegetable oil.
“We don’t use heat lamps, we don’t use frozen product. Everything is fresh,” she said.
Harold’s allows customers to season their chicken after it’s fried, too.
“It depends on what the customer is looking for. We do have our own Harold’s lemon pepper. We do have our scrumptious mild sauce that everyone talks about. We have our own hot sauce,” Kristen said.
If it were up to her, Kristen usually skips the sauce.
“No sauce. I’m not a sauce eater. I wanna taste the flavor,” she said.
As for attaining the status as Chicago’s oldest Black-owned restaurant business, Pierce said her father absolutely deserves the credit. Whether it was making appearances at the Bud Billiken parade or just simply employing the kids from the neighborhoods, Harold’s has endured.
“I think that it just made its mark in Chicago history, and its continued,” she said.
Even though the business has expanded and contracted over the years, they still plan on expanding beyond Chicago this year: Charlotte, St. Louis, Houston, Las Vegas. They show no signs of letting up, even after 71 years in business.
Dolinsky said, unless you order ahead of time, you will have to wait for your chicken as they prepare everything to-order.
Harold’s Chicken Shack