Harold's Chicken Shack celebrates 70 years as one of Chicago's oldest Black-owned restaurants

Sunday, February 7, 2021
Harold's Chicken Shack celebrates 70 years in business
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Harold's Chicken just turned 70! They have more than 40 locations, including other states.

ROSELAND, Ill. (WLS) -- As we kick off Black History this month, our Hungry Hound Steve Dolinsky has been searching out some of the oldest Black-owned businesses in the area.

He talks to the family behind a pioneer: Harold's Chicken Shack, which just celebrated its 70th year in business.

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.

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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

45 locations (26 in Illinois)