Whatever you do today, do not go to Heaven Sent in Rainier Valley. The newest branch of Ezell Stephens' fried chicken mini-chain doesn't open until Friday.
"Lord, they've been pulling on the door," says Stephens.
The first in-city location of Heaven Sent, which already has outlets in Renton, Everett and Lake City, is a joint venture with longtime Seattle pit master Willie Turner. Heaven Sent will share space with Willie's Taste of Soul at 3427 Rainier Ave. South, where Turner five years ago re-parked the smoker he'd been running for decades in Beacon Hill.
Stephens in 2010 launched the Heaven Sent brand after he lost rights to the Ezell's name in a protracted legal tussle that involved an ex-wife and allegations of recipe misappropriation. The case was resolved out of court with a settlement that allowed Stephens to keep frying chicken.
Heaven Sent serves chicken, livers, gizzards and the usual range of picnic fixings. The standard menu also includes barbecue chicken, but - in deference to his business partner - Stephens won't be cooking any barbecue in Rainier Valley. "I will have my sides," he guarantees. "Cole slaw, baked beans, pretty much everything."
But the main draw is the chicken, which Stephens says is unchanged from the chicken which famously made Oprah swoon.
"They should expect the best from the best," Stephens says of his new South Seattle customers. "It's Ezell Stephens that's making this chicken and I'm still Ezell."