Harold’s Chicken Shack
Until the late Harold P. Pierce opened his first joint back in June of 1950, the fried-chicken chains were ignoring Chicago’s black neighborhoods, leaving open a golden market opportunity for one of our unsung African-American entrepreneurs. Fortunately for Pierce, the big chains left Chicago’s South and West Sides alone for two more decades, allowing Harold’s to build into a franchise operation that today numbers fifty-plus locations, as well as newer outposts in places like Detroit. Harold’s offers a half-chicken dinner with fries, white bread and coleslaw for less than five bucks, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better bird anywhere. Long-time regulars get their whole dinner doused in Harold’s legendary hot sauce, but timid souls might opt for plain or the barbecue sauces. In spite of its success, Harold’s remains the very antithesis of the fast-food assembly line perfected by another local operation, McDonald’s. Except for the appetizing caricature of a king chasing a chicken with an ax, there is little that is standardized about these stores.
Best of Chicago 2002