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Nashville Hot brings hot chicken to Tri-State

Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-06 10:48:05-05

CRESCENT SPRINGS, Ky. — Nashville Hot promises visitors genuine, Southern-style hot chicken when it opens its doors in Northern Kentucky.

That's because the man in charge of the kitchen grew up in the Music City, where he learned to cook the cayenne pepper-infused fried chicken with deep Southern roots.

“My grandmother owned her own bakery. I grew up learning to roll dough for her,” said James Hutchison, who was recruited to move to Cincinnati by Nashville Hot’s owner, David Krikorian.

While the restaurant will open quietly for business Saturday, the restaurateur and chef will host an official grand opening celebration on Feb. 13.

 

Krikorian, a former president of Tom+Chee, met Hutchison during a fact-finding trip in Nashville last summer, as Krikorian was weighing the idea of opening a hot chicken restaurant in the Queen City.

Hutchison was kitchen manager at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant and head of operations of the popular Hattie B's Hot Chicken before meeting Krikorian. The restaurant owner said it was a server who introduced him to Hutchison after Krikorian explained why he was in Nashville.

After Krikorian shared his business plan, “Hutchison just looked at me and said, ’This is exactly what I want to do,’” Krikorian recalled.

Krikorian said Hutchison appeared skeptical when he promised to call the 25-year-old kitchen manager about a visit to Cincinnati a few weeks later. Krikorian, though, knew he had found the key ingredient for the restaurant to “capture that feel of a Nashville hot chicken restaurant and share it.”

Hutchison and his wife came up to the Queen City in August for a tour led by Krikorian. The couple liked the city and moved here that month.

Hutchison then started crafting a menu that includes five levels of hot chicken, from traditional to “Nashville Hot.” He also brought in other items he learned to make while working for various “meat and three” restaurants around Nashville after high school. (For the uninitiated, a meat-and-three is a Southern restaurant that offers between one to six types of meat as the main dish and three side items that typically change daily.)

Hutchison said he learned to make fried catfish, chicken and waffles, black-eyed pea salads, mac-n-cheese and dessert cobblers at such places. Those items appear on Nashville Hot’s menu and fit into the broader concept for the restaurant as well. Rather than focusing on only the chicken, Hutchison said he built a menu that showcases the broad appeal of Southern cooking.

“It’s tied to the history of Nashville,” Hutchison said of his menu. “There is really nowhere else in Cincinnati that really knows how to do it authentically.”

Krikorian and Hutchison both agreed there was one Queen City strength that Nashville Hot’s menu would play toward — beer. Six craft beers, including Braxton and MadTree brews, are on tap to take some of the burn out of the chicken's cayenne spices. At least one brewery from Lexington, Kentucky, Country Boy Brewing, also appears on the menu.

“I think people are going to be like, ‘Wow,’ when they come visit us,” Krikorian said. “Our Nashville hot chicken is unique and delicious.”

Nashville Hot
564 Buttermilk Pike, Crescent Springs
10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday
Visit the restaurant on Facebook.

 

 

Chat with digital entertainment reporter Brian Mains on Twitter @BrianDMains and on his Facebook page here.