New Orleans' Famous Willie Mae's Is Heading To A New City

While there has been no shortage of excellent fried chicken restaurants to open in Los Angeles over the years — from old-fashioned institutions like Dinah's to buzzy hot chicken spots like Howlin' Rays — the West Coast arrival of a NOLA culinary institution could change the L.A. chicken scene forever (via Eater LA).

According to Eater LA, the legendary fried chicken restaurant Willie Mae's Scotch House is set to expand its restaurant operation outside of New Orleans for the first time in its 65-year history with a new, full-service Los Angeles restaurant location.

The iconic New Orleans-based eatery, which has been named one of the best fried chicken restaurants in America and some of the "best [fried chicken] you'll ever eat" by Bon Appetit, was founded in 1957, initially operating as a hybrid bar, beauty salon, and barbershop in one (via Willie Mae's). When the beauty salon shuttered in the 1970s, customers urged the beloved proprietor, Willie Mae Seaton — who passed away in 2015 at the age of 99 — to open a restaurant in its stead.

Seaton began churning out Southern specialties like fried catfish, candied yams, cornbread muffins, and, of course, fried chicken to the hungry masses, quickly growing a local cult following. After Willie Mae's was awarded a James Beard Award for "America's Classic Restaurant for the Southern Region" in 2005, the restaurant was thrust into the national spotlight, drawing long lines of visitors from around the world eager to get a taste of Seaton's legendary chicken.

The award-winning restaurant is heading west to L.A.

In 2019, the soul food restaurant opened their second location, Willie Mae's at the Market, at Pythian Market downtown New Orleans, indicating that the long-standing institution was open to expanding their reach (via NOLA).

Now, the award-winning Louisiana restaurant will be heading west for the first time to open a full-service restaurant in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles later this summer (via Eater). The iconic chicken spot first dipped its toe into the Southern California dining scene in 2020, collaborating with the L.A.-based burger chain HiHo Cheeseburger on a fried chicken sandwich topped with Willie Mae's Southern-style fried chicken (via L.A. Mag).

Angelenos will soon get the chance to sample far more of Willie Mae's Southern classics — like gumbo, red beans, and fried okra — under the watchful eye of current Willie Mae's proprietor (and Seaton's great-granddaughter) Kerry Seaton-Steward, who will also be heading west run the L.A. location. 

Although Willie Mae's has yet to announce the exact date the Venice restaurant will open its doors, if past is prologue, it's all but guaranteed that there will be fried chicken fans lined up around the block when they do.