Nashville-style fried chicken is making its way into the Inland Empire with hopes of replicating the success it has in Los Angeles. Hotties Nashville Hot Chicken has joined The Shoppes at Chino Hills and received tremendous reciprocation in its first opening months. But will it live up to its big brother, Howlin’ Ray’s, in Los Angeles? To this day, Howlin’ Ray’s has the most amount of reviews I have ever seen on Yelp (5000+ reviews with a 4.5-star rating). Certainly there is a market for Nashville-style chicken, however Hotties has its work cut out for it.
Story Time: For this review I brought along two of my coworkers (Hensley & Vincent) in order to get a more thorough and well-rounded review. Hensley really loves Nashville-style fried chicken: he eats it weekly and on occasion makes it at home. All things considered I definitely needed his opinion on Hotties. My second coworker, Vincent, came because he owed me lunch, so bringing him was a no-brainer. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to this visit because I hyped up Hotties to them ever since my first time eating it. Thoughts like “what if they don’t like it?” or “what if it’s not as good today?” raced through my mind all the way up to their first bites.
Vincent – Two Tender Combo (medium)
Hensley- Slider Combo (spicy)
Me – Two Tender Combo (spicy)
Spice Level Breakdown
No Spice: for customers who either don’t like spicy food or want to enjoy without the cayenne seasoning.
Mild: recommended for those who want a slight hint of the cayenne, but have low spice tolerances.
Medium: perfect for people who enjoy spice and want a consistent level of heat.
Spicy: Now we’re playing with fire, unless your spice tolerance is above average this level should be satisfactory.
Fire: only for those who love torturing their taste-buds and have an insane spice tolerance.
To summarize their opinions in the most honest and concise way, I decided to use quotes said directly by them.
“This was really bomb; but their bread is not as good as Cane’s though. 10/10”-Vincent
“The chicken has more flavor than the Nashville Hot at KFC, but the spice level is a definitely on the weaker side.”-Hensley
Luckily for me, Hotties was a huge success for all of us. We left with full stomachs and full intentions of coming back soon!
Now back at the topic at hand: How does Hotties stack up against Howlin’ Ray’s? I will be comparing them based on three crucial criteria: taste, location and market appeal/branding.
In terms of taste, Howlin’ Ray’s definitely has the edge in this department, but Hotties is a close second. The good news is Hotties is still developing and perfecting its product so there is definitely room for growth and improvement. If Hotties improved:
- evenness of their seasoning
- strength of their spice levels
- their side options
Location is where Hotties has the biggest disadvantage when compared with Howlin’ Ray’s. By no means is Chino Hills a bad location for Hotties, in fact The Shoppes is one of the highest traffic areas in Chino Hills. That being said, Howlin’ Ray’ is in the heart of Los Angeles where the population and opportunities are multiple times greater. For reference, the highest traffic for Hotties may not even equal the lowest traffic of Howlin’ Ray’s simply based off the locational advantage. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about the location besides moving or opening up another location. But before that Hotties needs to focus on solidifying its market in the Inland Empire and then start its expansion.
In my honest opinion, market appeal is Hotties’ second greatest weakness in comparison to Howlin’ Ray’s. Based purely on followers, Hotties is far behind with a mere fraction of Howlin’ Ray’s fan base. Once again I have to mention Hotties is still in its beginning stages of business so that definitely is a huge factor. My suggestion to improve their following is to feature more of their customers’ social media posts to increase engagement on posts. Hottie’s branding is definitely a strong suit because it’s eye-catching and memorable (they need to get an official sign for the store though). Its slogan “thicc thighs save lives” definitely appeals to the younger generation, which is perfect seeing that is the majority of the consumer base.
- better social media leverage
I believe Hottie’s branding could match or surpass Howlin’ Ray’s.
Final Take: there is definitely room for improvement, however I look forward to being a regular customer and watching it grow as a company.
Q: Will it match Howlin’ Ray’s success in the future?
A: I’m not sure, but at the very least it can be the Howlin’ Ray’s of the Inland Empire.
Reviewoholic Certified Recommendations
- Two Tender Combo – the most popular item menu and is the safest introduction to Hotties
- Slider Combo – for more adventurous consumers who like more combined flavors