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Honey's Kettle...the good and the bad

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Honey's Kettle in Culver City has so much going for it, that it's faults are almost "overlookable", but they seem like they would be so easy to fix.

First the good:
1) The chicken...just amazing, and exactly the way fried chicken should be. Crispy, not greasy, with great juicy flavor.

2) The biscuits...light and flaky. Delicious by themselves, but with honey, it's just like heaven.

3) The location...I like the "new" Culver City. Lots of street parking, and lots of places to eat. I drive there from Hollywood.

4) The price...For less than $18, my girlfriend and I get chicken, biscuits, a salad, sodas, and fries. Amazing...especially in LA.

Now the bad:
1) (Most importantly) The service...never anything above adequate at Honey's Kettle, my most visit was poor by any standards. Four employees visable behind the counter, and my girlfriend and I alone waiting to order while they argued about who would have to take our order...in front of us! The guy who "lost" was obviously having a bad day (or week, or life), and wasn't helpful, friendly, or even passably professional. Were this my employee, I would have fired him on the spot.

When we finally got our order taken, we sat and waited. It was about 5-7 minutes, which was fine (especially since it usually means that it's gonna be fresh and hot), but when they called us, the hush puppies weren't ready, they had forgotten our drinks, and, most egregiously, our "8 piece combo" had only 7 pieces. I wanted to complain, but my SO talked me out of it, since the counter guy had been so rude.

I don't feel like I have outrageous standards for service in this type of place...I just want to be greeted, have my order taken and prepared correctly, and then a "Thank you" or "good-bye" or something. Not one of these things happened on our visit.

2) The sides...while the biscuits and sweet pickles are great, none of the other sides we've tried were that good. The lettuces tend to be brown, the hush puppies bland, and the corn on the cob ius never tender. Stick to the chicken.

3) Cleanliness...when we arrived, we were the only guests in the restaurant. And there was not even ONE clean table. We had to ask for napkins to wipe down a table. That said, the bathroom seemed clean (a big plus).

To sum up: Honey's Kettle's chicken is so good that I frequently drive 30 minutes when I've got the craving for outstanding fried chicken. That said, they could very soon lose even dedicated customers like me if they don't sharpen up their customer service.

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  1. agreed on all the points, except the sides (no comment as i have never tried the sides other than the biscuits). when the owners are there, the service is great but when they are not, customer beware. unfortunately it doesn't sound like the owners are there often.

    that said, i am so fed up with the service there, when i need a fried chicken fix, i just call 20mins ahead and pick up the chicken to go.

    1. Wow. What a horrible experience. You should really write a letter to the restaurant's manager and carbon copy the owners, the regional office, or their headquarters (if they have one). You'd be surprised at what a polite, well-written letter of complaint can do. Be sure to be specific about the time and date of your visit, and include brief descriptions of the problem employees. It's in the restaurant's best interest to deal with these issues quickly, so as not to lose valuable customers such as yourself.

      I used to work as a helper at a French cafe/bakery, and I remember that whenever a letter of complaint was received, the manager would call a meeting of the entire staff after closing and hold the responsible employees accountable. The customer who wrote the complaint, if it was deemed valid, usually received a personal letter of apology and a gift certificate in the mail.

      - Chubbypanda

      http://epicurious-wanderer.blogspot.com/

      5 Replies
      1. re: Chubbypanda

        If you check out Honey Kettle's website, maybe I missed it, but the only phone or fax numbers are to the restaurants themselves. No link to email, no corporate address. Pretty hard to communicate, as if a fax of complaint is sent to one of the restaurants I am guessing the manager could choose to lose it, after all, it is his responsibility. Pity, as I just chowed down on some chicken and it is truly wonderful. I won't give up on it, but I won't be going out of my way either.

        1. re: Chubbypanda

          Hi.. As regards the service issues there: I recall posts early on, mentioning that the owner had some type of uber-philanthropic outlook on his young employees, willing to give first jobs to young kids who've never worked before and tolerating their painful (to the customers) growth into the learning curve, as regards treatment of patrons. I took that to mean that a steady, steady stream of unskilled and first-time employed kids were perpetually being incorporated into their hiring pool. If that was/is true, sounds like the problem perpetuates itself every time a new batch of first-jobbers is processed. Never been myself, but now actually tempted to go just to witness the debacle firsthand.

          1. re: silence9

            if that is true....then it all makes sense now. =)

            1. re: silence9

              "uber-philanthropic outlook" my patootie. He is simply to cheap to pay the cost of quality employees and when they leave it's great for him because he gets cheaper ones.

              1. re: Wes

                Whatever his motivation, sounds like the outcome is the same...

          2. I totally feel you. The chicken and biscuts are quite sensational ...Service? haha It's unreal to me how they entrust the place to a bunch of lazy, loud mouth kids. Then again, wasn't it an employees mistake that led to the fire last year?

            =/

            1. disagree about the chicken. For me, it's barely edible. First, I like a chunky coating but that's a matter of taste. I tend to notice a metalic off off taste that I think is from the chemicals the processor uses to brine the chicken. It's also the brine that I think gives the chicken a mealy mushy quality.

              We (as a family) went there for take out at least 10 times. The kids don't like it much, the wife hates it and I can kinda tolerate it. I don't put up with crappy service for good food and I'm certainly not going to wait 15 minutes for it even when I HAVE called 20 minutes ahead of time and they told me 15 minutes.

              A question for the O.P., do you remember fondly Pioneer Chicken?

              1 Reply
              1. re: KayZee

                If you don't mind my asking, if none of your family likes this place, why did you go there at least 10 times? Based on what you and everyone else posted, I don't ever intend to go there even once.

              2. Do you mean you waited 5-7 minutes? That would be a dream. Honestly I think it's usually 30-45 min in Culver City. And that's not being busy. I have no idea why. I CAN SEE the chicken back there... it looks ready to me...just put it in box!!!!

                1. Yeah i've waited 20 minutes for fried chicken before. I don't understand why they are so slow, especially when everything is already there.

                  1. What annoys me is that they charge extra for their dipping sauce. That should be included. If it is, they have always forgotten to put it in my takeout orders. Bummer.

                    1. Ok, I do like Honey's Kettle...and placed a pretty nice order today...8 pieces plus extra pieces for pickup...with sides/bisquits, etc.....and get this...OUT of coleslaw...OUT of their 'special dipping sauce'. So, took potato salad, I can live. But honestly, how can this place hang in when on a Thursday, in the middle of the day, they are out of things?
                      Who knows what else they are out of? Something wrong here. I can understand waiting for something freshly cooked. But not having items, when the menu is limited to begin with, is pretty poor management. So, I will munch my chicken and whatever else is there, but while I like it, it is not so spectacular to deal with the frustration.

                      1. I completely agree with many of the above chowhounds. I have not had one good service experience yet. Even when we are the only ones in the restaurant, we seem to wait a very long time.
                        Even calling in your order doesn't help much as I still have to wait 20 minutes from when they had said the order would be ready. Now, I've resulted to picking up my order 30 minutes after the stated time. But I go back because of the food.

                        1. We called in our order today, it was after any lunch rush, 2ish, showed up, they didn't know what we were talking about, asked what we ordered, finally found the order and started filling it. OK, I can be kind and forgiving. Or at least I can try to be. But seeing all these posts, well, it is just not a great way to do business. Nobody working there seemed to doing much of a job. Clueless if a manager or owner was there. We didn't make a fuss. Brought it home and enjoyed. As I have said, not worth going out of our way for, as so many other wonderful places to pick up a late lunch during the week.