Food News

How Palmer’s Is About More than Fried Chicken

Palmer Fortune
Eliot Vanotteren
Palmer Fortune
This summer, Palmer’s Hot Chicken will be one of the new Nashville hot chicken establishments opening in Dallas.

It’s the brainchild of Palmer Fortune, who is also the owner of two Porch restaurants in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. The menu at Palmer’s will be identical to that of Porch, offering Nashville hot chicken, shrimp and catfish.

Fortune lived in Nashville for nearly 30 years. Although he currently resides in Georgia, his cuisine was largely inspired by his time in Nashville. He grew up in Dallas and feels that his new restaurant, Palmer’s, is a call back home.

“I was having coffee one morning with my wife, and I told her that I had a dream that I was busing tables at one of my restaurants,” Fortune says. “The setting was Porch, but it was in Dallas.”

Around the time that he had this dream, Fortune was set to speak at a recovery clinic in Nashville. His wife, Amanda, suggested that he go to Dallas following the Nashville trip and scope out the city for potential restaurant locations.

This year marks 15 years of sobriety for Fortune. When he was 33 years old, he spent 19 months in a recovery clinic in north Georgia.

“It literally saved my life,” Fortune says.

Fortune was so inspired by his time in recovery that he decided he wanted to help others turn their lives around.

“I didn’t like working for anyone,” Fortune says, “but I have an entrepreneurial spirit. So I decided to open a recovery center in Brunswick.”

Fortune searched Brunswick’s historic downtown area for a house where he would open his recovery center. When he found the house he wanted, he didn’t have much money to his name, so he made a deal to open his recovery center.

“I met with the landlord, and I told him what I was going to use the house for and how many people would potentially be living there,” Fortune says. “I told him ‘I can give you first and last month’s rent, but other than that, I see the house needs some work.’ I traded my sweat equity for the first six months.”

Fortune and a few friends helped redo the floors, do some plumbing work and furnish the home before it became the recovery center.

“I might be the duck you see, but all of the people are the feet underneath, doing all the work.” — Palmer Fortune

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During his time directing the recovery center, Fortune earned the nickname “napalm,” a play on his first name referring to his strict, disciplinary style. When Palmer’s opens in Dallas, the chicken, shrimp and catfish will be offered at four different spice levels: naked, novice, Nashville and napalm, the latter being the most spicy.

“We’re telling you right now, we’re not going to refund your money,” Fortune says. “This is a novelty product. It’s extremely hot. It’s not dangerous, but we’re warning you, it’s almost too hot to eat. But we do have customers that only eat napalm-level. So there are people who can handle it, it’s just few and far.”

Fortune is known for hiring people who are in recovery and want to make steps in changing their lives. With each employee he hires, Fortune is committed to helping shape them into hardworking, courteous human beings operating on very specific principles.

“Ninety percent of humans eat their food with their eyes first,” Palmer says. “You can have good food, but if your initial contact with any staff in a restaurant is bad, your good food might taste bad. When you open the door, and people remember your name and say hello, that's a nice, inviting environment. And that's what that's what you will find at Palmer's. And if our staff doesn't want to roll that way then I'll just fire them, I'm not kidding.”

While Palmer has had a long journey to returning to Dallas, he credits his employees for helping him get to where he is now.

“I might be the duck you see,” Palmer says, “but all of the people are the feet underneath, doing all the work.”

Palmer’s Hot Chicken, 6465 E. Mockingbird Lane, Suite 316 (Hillside). Planned to open late summer 2020.