Popular Nashville Hot Chicken Restaurant Files For Bankruptcy Protection

Party Fowl revealed the reason behind the owners’ petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

January 24, 2024

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Nashville Hot Chicken; Photo Courtesy of Party Fowl Nashville/Instagram

Party Fowl, a popular Nashville hot chicken restaurant chain, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

According to court documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, the owners petitioned for bankruptcy protection on Jan. 9, in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. This decision comes as a result of the business’ expansion around Tennessee and beyond, as well as the financial impact Covid-19 had on these added locations.

Austin Smith and Nick Jacobson established Party Fowl in 2014 with a restaurant in the Gulch. They founded this establishment with the goal of “bringing together the best of Nashville under one roof by combining great food, great drinks and a great experience,” as written on Party Fowl’s official website.  They currently manage almost 225 employees and have since grown their business with six LLC’s.

The court documents also noted that after opening a location in Cool Springs, TN in 2020, Smith and Jacobson decided to stretch beyond Nashville to open sister businesses in Chattanooga, TN and Destiny, FL. Unfortunately, those two locations have struggled to generate adequate revenue. Customers can also find Party Fowl’s hot chicken in Donelson and Murfreesboro, as well as licensed locations at Nashville International Airport and Nissan Stadium.

“This unfortunate timing started a snowball of debt that was only exacerbated by the subsequent opening of locations in Chattanooga and Destin, which have failed to take hold as of yet,” a court document says. “Party Fowl has a great product and great experience to offer its loyal customer base. It simply needs the tools offered by Chapter 11, Subchapter V to right the ship, change course and chart a better future.”

Requests Courts Grant Business A Pause

The Nashville Post reported that the owners have requested that the court grant their business a pause on its “non-critical but highly damaging financial obligations” in hopes that they will be able to “build sufficient cash to satisfy priority and administrative claims under a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization and regain control of daily cash flows.

“Party Fowl is Nashville through-and-through,” Payne wrote in an email to the Post. “Its current financial difficulties are not unique across the industry, but helping companies overcome these problems is why Chapter 11 exists.”

“We look forward to helping Austin, Nick, and the rest of the Party Fowl team navigate this process. Our hope is that the reorganization will be quick and enable Party Fowl to emerge even stronger and able to serve its customers, and the broader community, for decades into the future.”

Expected To File Joint Plan Of Reorganization

Smith and Jacobson of Party Fowl are expected to file a joint plan of reorganization by the Chapter 11, Subchapter V, filing deadline, which is set at April 8, the court document notes.

Dunham Hildebrand attorneys Henry Hildebrand, Alex Payne and Denis Graham (Gray) Waldron are representing Party Fowl.

“It is no secret that the last few years have been a challenge for individuals and businesses of all shapes and sizes. We are grateful that there are opportunities, like Chapter 11, that can allow us to move in a positive direction. Our teams have been made aware of where we are and where we are going. Once this snow melts, we’d love to see you. That’s why we do this. We hope to be a part of our communities for many years to come,” Smith said in a statement to the Business Journal.

Photo Courtesy of Party Fowl Nashville Hot Chicken
Photo Courtesy of Party Fowl Nashville Hot Chicken

Hot Chicken is a staple in Nashville and something tourists flock into Music City and wait in lengthy lines for. Along with Party Fowl, there is a surplus of other popular chains around the bustling city including Hattie B’s, 400 Degrees, Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish, Pepperfire, Prince’s, and Big Shake’s, to name a few.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.