Thursday, November 28, 2019

Chicagoland's famous Harold's Chicken Shack.

Harold Pierce, a Chicago entrepreneur, founded Harold's Chicken Shack (also referred to as The Fried Chicken King, Harold's Chicken, or simply Harold's) in 1950. Pierce developed the first Harold's out of necessity to serve the underserved neighborhood. The larger fast-food chains tended to avoid opening in African-American neighborhoods.
During the same time, there were legal and social obstacles to black-owned businesses that prevented Harold's from expanding into downtown or the North Side. Harold's became one of the few examples of a thriving take-out chain that was owned by and primarily served the black community.
Harold's fried chicken is different from other fast-food chicken joints (Kentucky Fried Chicken, Brown's Chicken, Popeyes, etc.) in two significant ways. First, the chicken is cooked in a mix of half beef tallow and half vegetable oil. Secondly, they fry your order after you order it.
Chicago-style fried chicken meal.
The basic Harold's Chicken Shack dinner is a half or quarter chicken served with french fries, two pieces of white bread, and a cup of coleslaw. The chicken may be all-white meat, all dark meat, or a mix (known as regular).

Harolds also has chicken gizzards, a big seller, and some restaurants offer catfish, perch, and a number of side items including fried okra. The chicken can be served plain, but usually, either hot or mild sauce is added. 
Chicago-style fried chicken: Drizzle sauce over the fried chicken and fries to soften the chicken skin. 
The Fry Sandwich: A common practice is to put the sauce-soaked fries inbetween the two slices of bread, which Chicagoans call a "fry sandwich."
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

The Old Harlo Grill in Melrose Park, Illinois, is another 1950s diner structure lost to progress?

The Harlo Grill at 2300 West North Avenue in Melrose Park open in 1953. The great American diner is already on the endangered species list and Harlow's was on a new strip-malls radar.
The counter wrapped around the open kitchen and was the only available seating. You can overhear people ordering "the usual," so you knew right away that they were a regular.
This place was a no-frills, open 24 hours a day diner that catered to the blue-collar working-class community, 3rd-shift workers, as well as the weekend after-the-bars-close crowd.
Breakfast... done right, just how you like it, great burgers, good coffee, and malts & milkshakes to die for. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or late-night is the perfect time for their double-cheeseburger, two beef patties, cheese, salt, and pepper — you pick toppings and condiments — simply delicious.
Harlow's is still open for business but in a shiny new building. I'm glad we have some awesome pictures of the original sign and restaurant.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.