Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken Expands Despite Covid-19 Challenges

Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken Expands Despite Covid-19 Challenges
Vincent Williams

Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken in Culver City was hardly expecting to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year amid a global pandemic.

When the first wave of stay-at-home orders hit the Los Angeles area in March, Honey’s Kettle founder Vincent Williams watched as business dropped by 60% even though his restaurant remained open for delivery as an essential service. “We got clobbered overnight,” he said.

However Williams, who founded the business in Compton 20 years ago and relocated to Culver City in 2005, said it didn’t take long for a loyal clientele — devoted to his signature fried chicken recipe, as well as fluffy biscuits served with warmed honey — to discover new options for home delivery, touted by Honey’s Kettle on social media.

Now, Williams said, Honey’s Kettle’s business is back to 100%. Even though he said patrons can now dine on the expansive outdoor patio since the pandemic hit, most customers prefer delivery or grab-and-go takeout.

Honey’s gourmet buttermilk biscuits are a highlight of meal specials.

Getting back to patio dining as a social event “is going to take a quantum change” post-Covid, Williams said.

To meet at-home demand, Honey’s Kettle is expanding with two kitchen-only, delivery-only locations. The first Honey Drop Kitchen opened downtown on July 6, and another location is set to open in Hollywood later this summer.

Williams said Honey’s Kettle has national aspirations but would like to serve new metropolitan areas with the same business model: one flagship dine-in restaurant per city with satellite kitchens as distribution arms.

Vincent Williams’ signature chicken recipe makes the “Fried & True” cookbook.

He likes the idea of purchasing new flagship locations rather than leasing. “Whereas in the past, you have seen (landlords) clamoring to rent and lease, I think the real estate market is going to turn around (post Covid-19). We will look for that when we are expanding.”

“I looked at (the pandemic) like a tsunami coming. … The swift boat is the one that’s going to back up and go in another direction before the storm hits,” Williams said. “In every problem, there are new opportunities in the eye of the storm.”

Williams said the Culver City Honey’s Kettle employs about 30 people, and that could expand to about 40 to include the two satellite locations. The Culver City store alone has grown into a $5 million business.

Workers filling food orders at Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken.

With two additional kitchens, he said, Honey’s Kettle in L.A. could grow to a $10 million enterprise in the foreseeable future.

“Not bad for 1,800 square feet,” said Williams, referring to the modest footprint of the Culver City store. “Pound for pound, we are the smallest big company in America right now.”

No posts to display