Did Ezell’s Fried Chicken change your life? Because it apparently changed the lives of a lot of online readers of Esquire Magazine, who picked it over any other fried chicken joint in the country.
But then again, according to the transitive property of unscientific fried chicken polls, that means Ezell Stephen’s new Heaven Sent restaurant in Rainier Valley is actually the “most life-changing,” according to the Seattle Weekly’s Hanna Raskin. And with the fried chicken at 23rd and Union’s Med Mix quietly gaining a loyal following, Ezell’s might want to keep an eye on the Seattle fried chicken crown it has held for so long.
Obviously, the CD needs to host a fried chicken battle. I’ll bring the napkins.
As with most great culinary institutions, Ezell’s recipe for success is actually no secret: They’re all about fresh ingredients and homemade preparation, though it does involve a slight assist from their friends in the South. “In the beginning, we always chose to use the best product, the best ingredients. Even before trans fat-free was the law, we used trans fat-free oils. We use 100-percent vegetable oils,” says Lewis. “The gravy is made from scratch — we make everything from scratch on the premises. Each one of our seven locations marinate their own chicken. We use a creole seasoning out of New Orleans that we marinate the product in, and we put a little cayenne pepper in the breading to give a little ting for the tongue. That marinating process helps give it that flavor down to the last bite.”
Ezell’s has been serving up its birds for over twenty years, when Lewis and boyhood friend Ezell Stephens set up shop in Seattle’s Central District. “We care a lot about our customers,” Lewis says. One of those customers, Toney Montgomery, left this comment during the voting: “I ran the 2001 Portland Marathon alongside Ezell for about 20 miles. We talked as we ran, and I was impressed with this svelte man running a marathon who also sold fried chicken. I asked him to reconcile this, and he said that he fried his chicken to be the best fried chicken… He also talked fondly about being able to provide living-wage incomes to his employees. That was a memorable marathon.” Pardon the sentimentality, but that sounds pretty nice.
UPDATE: Seattle Met reports that Ezell’s is looking to open new locations around the region. Nothing is final yet, but they want it to happen within the year:
Three or four more restaurants are in the pipeline. According to a rep, seven areas are in consideration: Mill Creek, Lynnwood, Redmond, Rainier Valley, Factoria, Federal Way, and Puyallup. Details are few at the moment—no leases have been signed—but owner Lewis Rudd hopes this all will happen within a year.