Hattie Moseley Austin

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Hattie Moseley Austin (c.1900–1998) was an African-American restaurateur, the founder of Hattie's Chicken Shack in Saratoga Springs, New York.


Hattie was born Hattie Gray in Saint Francisville, Louisiana, around 1900. Her mother, Lydia, died in childbirth. The wife of a local rabbi, Hattie Leopold, who had employed Lydia took an interest in the child and helped Hattie's father Harry raise her. Hattie was named after Mrs. Leopold.[1]

She moved to New Orleans for school, and then to Chicago. In Chicago she went to work as a cook for the family of A.E. Staley, known as "The Starch King", founder of the corn processing company of the same name. The Staleys owned homes in Chicago, Miami, and Saratoga Springs and when they travelled Hattie accompanied them.[2]

Hattie was married twice, first to Willie Moseley, and after his death in 1971 to Bill Austin, She had no children of her own, but took in several needy neighborhood children.

Hattie's Chicken Shack[edit]

Hattie's Chicken Shack, 45 Phila Street, in 2013

In 1938 Hattie decided to settle permanently in Saratoga Springs and opened Hattie's Chicken Shack on Federal Street, a racially mixed neighborhood, with a total investment of $33. Her specialty was a simple fried chicken recipe, although later she added other items of New Orleans cooking such as shrimp, scallops, and barbeque.[1]

At this time Saratoga Springs was a "wide open" town with an active night life— much of it centered in the Federal Street area. During the summer season Hattie operated her restaurant around the clock, seven days a week. She catered to all classes of people from wealthy gamblers to backstretch workers from the Saratoga Race Course. She was also noted for feeding anyone who was hungry, even if they had no money to pay.[1]

Hattie operated the restaurant on Federal Street until 1968, when urban renewal wiped out the entire neighborhood. She then moved to Phila Street, where the restaurant still operates today although Hattie sold it in 1993.

See also[edit]

A. E. Staley


  1. ^ a b c "Hattie's 75 Year Anniversary". July 14, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Hattie Moseley Austin, Founder of Hattie's Chicken Shack". Saratoga.com. Retrieved March 2, 2017. 

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