The Story of Hattie’s
Since it opened in 1938, “Hattie’s” and “Saratoga Springs” are often mentioned in the same breath. Hattie’s has served fine Southern and Louisiana cuisine in a friendly, down-home atmosphere for close to 80 years and has earned legions of fans. Over its long history, the restaurant has provided consistent commitment to its staff, its customers and the community and the original storefront Chicken Shack™ has become a beloved neighborhood restaurant with a national following.
Hattie Gray was born and raised along the banks of the Mississippi River in Saint Francisville, Louisiana, just North of Baton Rouge. Although her mother died during childbirth and there is no official record of her birth, Hattie estimated she was born about 1900.
As a young woman, Hattie left Saint Francisville for New Orleans where she went to school and lived for several years. While visiting her sister in Chicago, Hattie met and began working for the A.E. Staleys, a family that had made a fortune processing cornstarch into household products. For many seasons, Hattie traveled with the Staleys between Chicago, Miami and Saratoga Springs. By 1938, Hattie had saved enough money to leave the Staleys, move permanently to Saratoga and open Hattie’s Chicken Shack.
“Saratoga was fast, man; it was fast. It was up all night long.”
Describing Saratoga in the late 30s and 40s Hattie said, “Saratoga was fast, man; it was fast. It was up all night long.” Thriving in her Federal Street location for 30 years, Hattie’s was open 24 hours a day providing hospitality to the late-night crowds that frequented the gambling dens, speakeasies, and smoky jazz and blues clubs of Saratoga’s West side. When urban renewal came to Federal Street in the late 60s, Hattie relocated the restaurant to its current location at 45 Phila Street.
It wasn’t just serving good food and fun that has made Hattie so well loved. It was also what Hattie did in the community. In addition to donating to many local charities throughout the years, Hattie also helped many young people, giving them work when no one else would, helping them through school and even taking them into her own home and nurturing them like family. In addition to her famous generosity and inability to let anyone go hungry, Hattie was known for her sense of humor and her special quality of treating royalty and the downtrodden exactly alike. Everyone felt welcome. Hattie’s is legendary and continues to thrive and carry on in the tradition of great food, ambience and wonderful hospitality. Please pass on the legend of Hattie’s and come back to see us.
Fast forward to 2021, Business for Good™ teamed up Hattie’s head chef Jasper Alexander and together brought on chefs Phillip “Chef Fitz” Fitzpatrick and Mark D. Graham to continue Hattie’s mission to serve the community. Along with this team, BFG has transformed Hattie’s into a seed for change, while maintaining the quality and character of the original award-winning recipes. We’re expanding to new locations, all of which donate 100% of the profits to Business for Good to end hunger and food insecurity. There’s also “Hattie’s Homework Hour,” where staff can clock in an hour early, get a free meal, and get paid to do their homework before they get to work.
Chef Jasper Alexander
Director of Hospitality
Chef Philip “Fitz” Fitzpatrick
Chef Mark D. Graham