Did someone say hot chicken? The Nashville phenomena has now made its way to Hoover with Nashville native Zebbie Carney opening his Eugene’s Hot Chicken concept’s second location near the Galleria in October. To get a taste of his story and the menu, we chatted with Zebbie just after its opening.

You grew up in Nashville. What was your first exposure to its hot chicken?

In my neighborhood it was Prince’s Hot Chicken. It just became popular. It was just a chicken joint to get southern fried chicken and hot chicken.

What’s the back story on why you started Eugene’s?

I always wanted to own my own restaurant with my southern roots. I got a business degree from Tennessee State and have been working in restaurants my whole life. I wanted something close to home and closer to my heart. I thought about the neighborhood hot chicken joint I grew up with and wanted to create something like that. Birmingham didn’t have hot chicken at the time, and I wanted to add value to the food scene. Eugene came from my stepfather’s name—Kenneth Eugene Allison. He was in my life from when I was 4 to 17 when he passed away, and I credit how I grew up to him. There are things I still do today because of him.



How did you come to open a Hoover location?

We started as a food truck in 2015, and two years later we started the Uptown location. Our food truck has been coming to Hoover for five years, and we have been well received. It just made sense to come to Hoover, and there was no hot chicken in the area. I had worked for J Alexander’s as executive chef for six years, so I knew the market. The location we chose was a spot I knew, outside the mall in its own building with the businesses and hotels and traffic around from 150. It was Highway 55 Burgers and before that Johnny Rockets.

What do you recommend ordering?

Even though it’s called Eugene’s Hot Chicken, I think we have some of the best southern fried chicken in town. I recommend quarter white or quarter dark. You gotta try the deviled eggs and fried pickled okra. We are starting our pimiento cheese soon. We’ve got collard greens, iron skillet beans, mac and cheese, southern coleslaw and shoestring French fries. We’ve got banana pudding that’s one of our staple desserts too.

What makes Eugene’s Hot Chicken Eugene’s Hot Chicken?

I think it’s the unique blend of the spices that keeps people coming back for more. I developed all the spices myself. I try to tone down the heat level and add more flavor because not a lot of people knew what hot chicken was. You can get it stupid hot if you want though. We get quite a bit of people who ask for extra stupid too.