Michigan’s Best Local Eats: Hancock’s chicken brings Nashville heat to Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Hancock is serving up authentic Nashville-style hot chicken recipes right here in West Michigan.

Located in a renovated service station on the corner of Wealthy Street and Fuller Avenue, Hancock is locally known for its delicious chicken recipes, classic Southern side dishes and refreshing slushy alcoholic drinks.

With flavors that owner Paul Lee says you won’t find anywhere else in West Michigan, Hancock’s motto is “Nashville Heat meets Michigan Neat.”

“Traditionally, you know, when people say things are hot in Western Michigan, they’re not really that hot,” Lee told MLive/The Grand Rapids Press. “But we want it to be very true to being true Nashville hot chicken.”

Paul Lee and his wife, Jessica Lee, opened up the restaurant at the start of 2019. It’s located in the old service station at 1157 Wealthy St., where the Wealthy Street Station Deli & Grill resided for decades before it closed in 2015.

Hancock’s most popular menu item is his Chicken Sandwich, a classic chicken sandwich recipe with country fried chicken tenders, mayo, iceberg lettuce, American cheese, bread and butter pickles on a golden bun. Lee said the chicken does a brine and buttermilk soak for a few days before it’s floured and fried up.

The diner gets all its non-GMO, hormone-free chicken from Miller Poultry, at an Amish farm based in Orland, Indiana, so it’s all local to the Midwest, he said.

The sandwich comes in five main flavors: traditional, sweet, hot, hotter and hottest. There’s also an off-menu heat level called “hotter-est,” Lee said.

“That’s kind of like melt-your-face kind of flavor,” he said of the off-menu heat level. “I can have it every once in a while, but it’s one of those, ‘don’t get it on your hands, because if you get it near your eyes, it’ll burn your eyes,’ kind of hot.”

Hancock is also known for its slushy drinks, which are the perfect refreshers during the hot summer months. Its most popular slushy is the John Daly, which has Tito’s Handmade Vodka, lemonade, iced tea and orange bitters. Hancock’s menu also has rotating cocktail drinks and a special whiskey cocktail selection.

Hancock has indoor and outdoor dining options, with a modern diner style inside the restaurant and an outdoor patio with picnic tables and games like ping pong and life-size Connect Four. The diner is open for dine-in and also has a curbside window for takeout.

Paul and Jessica Lee also own The Winchester and Donkey Taqueria in Eastown, and are planning to soon reopen Royals by the end of the summer.

The restaurant is open seven days a week and opens at 11 am everyday. It closes at 9 pm Sunday through Thursday, and 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Hancock’s menu is listed at www.hancockgr.com/.

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