Nashville’s iconic Lower Broadway gets its first Black-owned businesses
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A hot chicken dish in Nashville, Tennessee, typically means you get a cayenne-spiced piece of chicken that sits on top of white bread and is dressed with dill pickles. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack started this style of deep-frying back in the 1930s.
Andre Prince runs the family business and recalls what downtown Nashville represented when she was growing up: “The women wore gloves and hats. Can you imagine? As if they were going to church,” she said.
When Prince was coming downtown in the 1950s and ’60s, Black entrepreneurs’ neighborhoods were redlined and segregated.
That legacy still resonates in Nashville, and nationwide.
The Brookings Institution said high-rated businesses in Black-majority neighborhoods earn less revenue than businesses with similar quality ratings (from sites like Yelp) that are outside Black neighborhoods. The think tank estimated it results in losses of up to $3.9 billion a year for those companies.
Now, Prince’s Hot Chicken is one of two Black-owned restaurants moving to Nashville’s Lower Broadway, one of the city’s most iconic business districts.
In Tennessee, a prime source of revenue is the tourism industry. And these Black-owned restaurants are coming to a street that has attracted many tourists over the years in an area that’s most associated with country music bars and honky-tonks.
The owners of Prince’s and the artisan pizza shop Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria are hoping to capitalize on the tourist foot traffic here.
Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of Nashville’s Convention & Visitors Corporation, said the new development could be the gateway for tourists to explore more of the city. “If it opens people’s eyes to what we have to offer, they’ll want to come back and they’ll want to go to the original location,” he said.
Slim & Husky’s already has two other locations in the city. The restaurant serves pizzas named “P.R.E.A.M” and “Got 5 On It” to pay homage to Black hip-hop culture.
When tourists come into town Slim & Husky’s, co-owner Clint Gray said he wants people to associate pizza with his company. In 2019, visitors to Nashville spent $7.5 billion.
“It’s very important for them to know that it’s not just cowboy boots and country music downtown,” Gray said, “but that downtown should be a representation of, you know, what Nashville is made of 100%. And we’re a part of that fabric.”