Restaurant News

Mico's Hot Chicken Brings a Taste of Nashville to Houston

Kimico Frydenlund is the face of Mico's Hot Chicken, a new restaurant in Houston that has found success in the pandemic.
Kimico Frydenlund is the face of Mico's Hot Chicken, a new restaurant in Houston that has found success in the pandemic. Photo by Becca Wright

Talk about piling on the degree of difficulty factor. To begin with, Kimico Frydenlund decided to move her start-up, Mico’s Hot Chicken, from a food truck to a brick and mortar in March — the same month that all sorts of restaurant restrictions were invoked and people began isolating in their homes because of COVID-19.

On top of that, she made this major change while pregnant and working as a registered nurse. To date, however, it appears everything is working out pretty well for someone who didn't even know what "hot chicken" was before she got involved with it.

Mico’s building at 1603 North Durham (the former home of Balls Out Burger) looks like a renovated gas station with covered outdoor seating. On a recent visit, all the seats were filled with diners enjoying chicken sandwiches, tenders and waffle fries while a long line of waiting customers stretched along the side of the building.
click to enlarge Houstonians enjoy the great weather while eating hot chicken. - PHOTO BY DEVAUGHN DOUGLAS
Houstonians enjoy the great weather while eating hot chicken.
Photo by DeVaughn Douglas
Asked why she got involved in this enterprise, Frydenlund said: “It was very random. I saw an Instagram post for hot chicken, and I love spicy food, but I had never heard of hot chicken. It intrigued me. I wanted to try some…and I’m sure it helped that I was pregnant at the time.

“So, I dragged my husband and our two girls to Nashville so we could taste the real deal. Then we came back home, created our recipes, and eventually it all worked out.”

What worked out is Mico’s becoming a quick success with daily lines, Houstonians retweeting its menu items all over social media, and current plans to open up a new location. While success did come quickly it definitely wasn’t overnight and not without some stumbles along the way.

“We started the food truck in June of 2019 and that first day was a failure. Our recipe was too salty. We were initially going to be selling waffles as well and the machines broke. It was a mess…but we knew we had something. People started lining up, so we knew we had something pretty quickly.”

And it wasn't just the food that drew in new diners.

“I wanted to support it because it was Black-owned," said customer Krystal Purnell on a recent visit. "I came here because I originally had Nashville hot chicken and I saw on a Black bloggers Instagram page and I wanted to see how it compares to what I’ve had before. Now I’m back because he wanted to try it out.” 

As far as Tony Davis was concerned, it was good word of mouth and wonderful photographs that drew him in.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the place and the pictures look great. I had to try it out.”

Frydenlund was banking that kind of hometown support when she decided to start Mico’s in Houston, but she has plans on taking the brand to a much larger level.
click to enlarge Nashville inspired. Houston made. - PHOTO BY DEVAUGHN DOUGLAS
Nashville inspired. Houston made.
Photo by DeVaughn Douglas
“Houston is a foodie city so we knew hot chicken would be a hit here. I love Houston and I feel like we have such a great food culture. I want the rest of the nation to experience it. My husband and I want this to be America’s hot chicken. We want to expand across Texas and then bring it to everywhere else.”

Quick Tips

     — Get there early or be prepared for a line. The line moves pretty fast, though, so it's not a problem.
     — The extra spicy is actually spicy. Like really spicy. Kimico says they may be adding another spice level but for most customers the extra was just enough.
     — All the seating is outside, and they make sure the tables are sanitized. So it’s a great option for people trying to get a little air during quarantine.
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Houston Press contributor DeVaughn Douglas is a freelance writer, blogger, and podcaster. He is 1/2 of the In My Humble Opinion Podcast and 1/1 of the Sleep and Procrastination Society. (That last one isn't a podcast; he just procrastinates and sleeps a lot.)