LA foodies up in arms over new Cairns restaurant Howlin' Jays
An on-trend fried chicken joint is about to open in Cairns - but it's raising eyebrows all the way over in the United States before it's even opened.
The team behind Jimmy's Burgers on Shields St is about to open Howlin' Jay's at the Pier. The American themed restaurant will specialise in "Nashville hot chicken", a spicier, higher quality version of KFC.
Howlin' Jays will serve up the latest food trend with American craft beers like Brooklyn Brewery in a venue blasting loud music and kitted out with kitschy posters.
But the new venture, run by James Burman, has copped some flack from a place that has led the hipster revival of the old-school dish: Los Angeles.
The restaurant's name Howlin' Jays and venue theme bears an uncanny resemblance to cult American restaurant Howlin’ Ray’s, which also happens to be famous for its “Nashville hot chicken”.
What’s a consonant between continents, right?
According to influential online foodie mag Eater Los Angeles, it seems there’s a little bit more to the similitudes than mere alphabetic aberration and a penchant for spicy chook.
The website pointed out that the rooster logo and red coloured theme of the soon-to-be-opened Cairns restaurant were very close to the iconic markings of the American original.
“Of course, there’s nothing illegal about a different restaurant in Queensland, Australia serving their own version of Nashville hot chicken,” the website proclaims.
After its Californian branch opened last year, Howlin’ Ray’s was billed as a “tour de force in LA’s restaurant world” in an Eatery rundown of the best Los Angeles restaurant newcomers.
The restaurant, which has been accredited with kick-starting the LA craze for hellishly hot fried poultry pieces, is famous for its hours-long queues.
Mr Burman told TropicNow that Howlin' Jays has "no affiliation with Howlin' Rays" in LA.
"The story of the venue comes from a passion for American food and creating exciting dining experiences close to home," he said.
"After visiting the States earlier this year and spending a good chunk of time in Music City Nashville soaking up the culture and eating too much fried chicken at the original Nashville hot chicken restaurant Prince's and also Bolton's Hot Chicken and Hattie B's to name a few, I was in love.
"There is something magical about sitting down with amazing hot chicken, loud music, new found friends and great craft beers.
"The venue is named after my father local born and bred in Cairns, James Burman who is known to go HOWLIN' around town with his rumbustious big personality.
"As for Jay's - that's a name he was called by his mother since birth. We also wanted to ensure our venues are different from one another yet still a link to our American-style burger restaurant JIMMYS Burger & Co. Working together as a J and J it only made sense.
"The venue will be one of the biggest fried chicken restaurants concepts around to cater for hundreds of people and incorporating many different dining and drinking areas.
For example our Beer Hall, Waterfront Patio and our dive bar-styled side room."