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First Look: Harold's Chicken of Chicago Lands Near Dallas

We recently got to try Harold's Chicken of Chicago in Cedar Hill.
Harold's Chicken has opened its first location in North Texas.
Harold's Chicken has opened its first location in North Texas. Terrance Porter
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Harold Pierce opened the first Harold’s Chicken in 1950 on the South Side of Chicago. The South Side was the home of the Black community. Racial discrimination kept major fast food chains from opening locations in the area, but it was an opportunity for a resident to become a successful entrepreneur. In the decades that followed, Pierce opened several locations on his side of town before being able to move his franchise into the North Side of town. Nearly 73 years later, his fast-food fried chicken empire has locations all over Chicago, Illinois and the Midwest region.

In January, the corporation, now operated by his daughter Kristen Pierce-Sherrod, opened its first location in North Texas to a crowd eager to receive a taste of Chicago. I was ready to refamiliarize myself with the Chicago favorite, years since we last met.
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After a hectic start, Harold's Chicken is settling in.
Terrance Porter
Unfortunately, on the Saturday of their grand opening week, the Cedar Hill property was occupied with unsatisfied customers seated at tables barren of any food. There was a three-hour wait for orders. As you can guess, I left without any food and tried again weeks later on the Sunday following Easter. Since that first week was so chaotic, phone orders and online orders have been suspended in order to further train employees.

Before his death in 1988, Harold Pierce implemented two rules for his franchises. First, every location is allowed to be designed any way the franchisee wants. This allows for a reflection in the local environment.

The Cedar Hill location has a bar with signature Chicago-named drinks, like the Chi-Town, a twisted old fashioned. The walls are adorned with photographs of the company’s history and also display a mural that merges the Dallas skyline with Chicago’s skyline.

The second rule is that the food is not cooked until it is ordered. Food doesn't wait under heat lamps until it's distributed. So after a 40-minute wait, I picked up my order from the kitchen counter and took a seat at the bar to enjoy the end prize of my journey.
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A six-piece wings meal, fried hard.
Terrance Porter
A six-piece wing basket "fried hard," which, according to some online research, is the best way to order, comes covered in mild sauce, known as “Chicago-style," with seasoned fries, coleslaw and pickles shielded by two slices of bread.

As expected, the wings were hot and fresh and bore a sweet kick from the mild sauce. The sides and coleslaw were a welcomed assist.

On the other hand, on a side order of three chicken tenders, the mild sauce wasn’t enough to distract from rubbery chicken; it could have been better fried hard as well.

While the trip to Harold’s Chicken was a personal reminder of previous trips to Chicago, the new location meant more to the people around me. Several patrons that day were reminded of their pasts as they found community after learning of each other being from the South Side and West Side of Chicago. While they were sharing stories of their favorite Harold’s locations, I was thinking about Dallasites who might want to make the trek to Cedar Hill to get the Chicago experience. If you have the time and are not in a rush, then you should visit.

Harold's Chicken, 241 FM1382, Cedar Hill. Monday – Tuesday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Wednesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – midnight; Sunday, noon – 4 p.m.
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