Hattie (Gray) Austin Moseley (circa 1900-1998)

Company: Hattie’s Chicken Shack
Started: 1938

Hattie Austin Moseley was newly widowed in 1938, living in Saratoga Springs, New York and looking for a way to provide for herself during the difficult years of the Great Depression. Born in Louisiana, Moseley, whose mother died in childbirth, had held jobs as a domestic and restaurant worker. Using her savings, she launched Hattie’s Chicken Shack, a food stand serving southern-style fried chicken, biscuits and other treats that was open 24 hours a day, to cater to the horse-racing and night life scene that made the town famous. Her food and sense of humor drew crowds; within a year, she earned enough to expand to a full-scale restaurant, frequented in its history by such celebrities as Jackie Robinson, Cab Calloway and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Moseley continued to work until age 92, when she sold the restaurant. As of 2013, it remains a popular and historic restaurant that still uses Hattie’s original fried chicken recipe, named best by Food and Wine magazine.

“Whenever anybody comes to the door, give ‘em something to eat. That may be Jesus.”

References:

  • Picture: Courtesy of Hattie's Chicken Shack (photo by Michael Noonan).
  • Debra Spark, “Soul Survivor,” Food and Wine, August 2000 (http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/soul-survivor).
  • “Hattie Mosely Austin,” in Oppedisano, Historical Encyclopedia, 22-24.
  • Aubree Cutkomp, “A Saratoga Institution: Hattie’s Restaurant, Review” (http://thefreegeorge.com/thefreegeorge/hatties-saratoga).