Chicken supply chain issues have disrupted restaurant supplies the last few months. That includes some in Nashville, Tennessee making the city’s most famous and fiery food: hot chicken.
The dish is traditionally breaded with spice, dropped into a deep fryer and topped with tongue-torching sauce before it’s placed on a slice of white bread. But since the start of summer, Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish in East Nashville has struggled to get the right parts of the bird.
“There’s a wing shortage,” said Dollye Matthews, “so we have to take whatever we can get … it’s even times when we can’t even get breasts.”
Other businesses suffered from shortages too. Mike Rapp works for the wholesale distributor Off The Dock Nashville. He said many of their clients have been impacted by the lack of supply. He pointed at a bird flu outbreak as one contributing factor.
The USDA says more than 40 million birds have been affected, including turkeys and chickens used for meat.
Combine that with a shortage of workers in processing and transportation, and Rapp said it created a “perfect storm.”
“You’re basically at the mercy of your chicken processors these days,” Rapp said. “You place your normal orders you’ve been getting for years, and they send you whatever they have available.”
And while some of the shortages have eased, Dollye Matthews said sometimes she still can’t get what she needs. “They may not have what you want or what you sell.”
Plus, the cost of chicken, labor and rent has gotten more expensive. Matthews said Bolton’s has had to charge customers nearly double the cost of a plate in the last year.
“We do have some that have the comment ‘You know, I can’t afford this like I used. I’ll see y’all when we can.’”
Matthews said she appreciates the customers who continue supporting the business, despite the higher prices.