10. Nashville Hot Chicken begins and ends at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack.

Black woman with long curly hair smiles with mouth open and head tilted back standing in parking lot at night dressed in cherry red t-shirt with "Prince's Hot Chicken" printed on front in white letters. She is brightly lit. Behind her three shiny cars are visible in darkness. Far behind her an assortment of lights are visible.
Lydia, long time Prince’s Hot Chicken employee and family confidant, laughs at the end of a long shift at the now shuttered Ewing Lane location.

From the journal:

-9 September 2017

Many people come to interview Miss Andre’ at Prince’s Hot Chicken. And they should. The food lives up to the reputation. And the original shop lives up to its reputation—it’s a weathered building in a strip mall in North Nashville! But “Prince’s Chicken” is only a business. Miss Andre’ is so much more.

On Sundays the Ewing lane “shack” is closed. This is church day. This is a day of rest. Family day. And it is Swett’s Diner day for Miss Andre’.

It is on Sundays you see Miss Andre’ and all the fascinating life behind the narrative told about her and her family’s business. The life no one sees. On Sundays you see the life no reporter seems to be asking about because… why would they? On Sundays you see the daughters, Semone and Yeae. You see the grandchildren: Jace, McKinlee, Christina, Brittainy, Austin–and the one great-granddaughter JaéDence! You see the friends of Miss Andre’ from her childhood: Jazz musicians, doctors, professors, preachers. You see church friends. Each Sunday Miss Andre’ eats at Swett’s and it is a line of Nashville’s who’s who comes to her table saying hello, bantering, sitting a while to visit and grab a hug; Swett’s owner, David, coming by to tease Miss Andre’: “She may be the queen of hot chicken, but look where she comes to eat every Sunday!”

Prince’s Chicken is in the roots of Nashville. The journalists get this right. But journalism misses the real story. It is deeper and simpler than chicken.

“Every cook is different,” Prince’s customer, Don, said last night. “No kitchen is without the cook’s family and home. It influences everything.” He is more right than he knows. The family is everything. The Prince-Jeffries family grabbed us and brought us into their lives beyond the business and I see how the whole business is inseparable from who they are as a family.

So as we embark on this unique deep dive into this city we ask ourselves, what is Nashville? How do we look past the surfaces? How do we look past architecture, country music, universities, poverty, “southern culture,” and all the other surfaces? How do we penetrate to the nerve endings of this American city to learn the city’s values? Is this even possible? Does a city even have a set of shared values?

BELOW: CLICK ARROWS ON IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS: Sundays at Swetts

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