In 2015, restaurateur Jim Noble signed a letter to the Charlotte City Council opposing proposed changes to the city's anti-discrimination ordinance.
Unwittingly, he'd placed himself inextricably into one of the most significant political chapters North Carolina has ever faced.
The City Council was considering expanding anti-discrimination protections to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression. An Arizona-based right-wing legal defense group called Alliance Defending Freedom. who was in the process of defending a baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple, drafted a letter to the Charlotte City Council opposing the expansion. Jim Noble signed it. [Inside 485 searched for, but could not obtain, the text of the letter]
In 2017, Jim Noble told Q Notes via the Charlotte Observer that he mainly opposed the ordinance due to its effect of allowing Charlotteans to use whatever public bathroom aligned with their gender identity. At that time, he said "I have to protect little kids of customers," equating transgender individuals as being an inherent danger to children.
Despite the resistance, the ordinance passed. Raleigh stepped in and the state government passed a controversial bill forcing people to only use bathrooms that lined up with the gender on their birth certificate, a statute known as HB2, or "the bathroom bill." North Carolina became a laughing stock around the county. The state missed out on an estimated $77 million of investment and 1,750 jobs. Top tier artists like Ringo Starr, Maroon 5, and Bruce Springsteen cancelled their concerts here. The NBA moved the All-Star Game.
HB2 was eventually partially repealed, but its shadow is long-casting.
The controversy was about the rights of the trans community, the rights of all minorities, the culture war between Charlotte and the rest of the state, the growing tension between younger liberal transplants and older right-leaning locals, and the rights of sovereign entities to govern themselves.
When Jim Noble put his name on that letter, he forever tied each of his businesses to a side of those arguments. That was his choice.
Some might say it's unfair to consider Noble's new "chicken shack" Bossy Beulah in the context of its owner's transphobic stances. But nobody forced Jim Noble to sign that letter. Nobody forced him to again defend his statements in 2017. His faith, a faith I share, nowhere requires political opposition to which bathroom one uses. These were Noble's choices.
The idea that Jim Noble's chicken sandwich deserves some kind of benefit of the doubt when he doesn't believe transgender people deserve the same is asinine.
All of this would be a lot more complicated if the sandwich was any good.
It is not.
Bossy Beulah is an over-hyped, under-seasoned, disappointment of a sandwich. A far cry from "Charlotte's best chicken sandwich," you can get something better in most drive-thrus. The design is non-existent. The speed of service is below average. There is no reason to ever dine at Bossy Beulah.
Bossy Buelah is currently open just for lunch, cooking 300 sandwiches per day. The location on Freedom Drive is counter style, with absolutely no design elements at play whatsoever.
It's not a stripped down approach like Ace No. 3. It's more like a lack of effort that manifests as an almost smug sense of entitlement, like Bossy Beulah thinks getting the media hype machine to reprint the "best Charlotte chicken sandwich" claim is all they have to do to get us idiots to eat there.
They're probably right, to be honest. About 35 people were in line for the grand opening Tuesday. I heard they were sold out by 1 PM.
I ordered the Cheesy Beaut and a side of fries. My total was $15. While I waited for my food, I made a matching donation to the Trevor Project, an organization that provides resources for LGBTQ+ teens in crisis.
My food came on a classic southern shack tray with a folksy photograph of Bossy herself, Noble's great aunt Beaulah. I couldn't help but wonder if discriminatory Boomers understand that LGBTQ+ people also have these close relationships, these memories, families, histories, stories. And I wondered if hate was something learned, taught from a young age, drank from toxified gene pools. I realized at that moment, before my food even came, that good or bad, Bossy Beulah has already been poisoned.
Anyway, it was bad.
The fries were a disaster. No flavor, barely seasoned, and stale. If you told me they were made the day before and reheated in a microwave, I wouldn't be surprised.
Biting into the sandwich was a relief after the fries. Worry returned when I realized I couldn't pick out the flavor of the chicken in the bite. All I tasted was cheese, pickle, and Duke's Mayo. Quick plea: Restaurants, stop putting Duke's Mayo on your menu like it's a draw. It's a table packet condiment. Getting pumped about Duke's Mayo is not something we're doing in 2020.
When you get past the cheese and mayo, you discover the breading is barely seasoned. This generational recipe must've been a short one, because I could hardly taste even salt or pepper, much less some of the more classic southern chicken seasonings like garlic salt or paprika.
The quality of the Joyce Farms chicken breast is fine, but Bossy Beulah does nothing to earn that.
This sandwich needs to be redesigned from the ground up. North Italia proved to me that good food can overcome a problematic concept, and with as problematic as a Noble-owned restaurant is, the food is not stepping up to the plate at all.
The comparison to Chick-Fil-A is so easy, it would be insulting not to bring it up. Yes, Chick-Fil-A is much, much better, and just apparently became much, much less homophobic. The announcement that Chick-Fil-A would end its donations to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations came the day before Bossy Beulah's surprise soft opening. Almost as if someone said "If you still want to eat a chicken sandwich that discriminates, we gotchu fam."
Bossy Beulah flops on every scale. You can get a better (and cheaper) chicken sandwich at Showmars down the street. You can get faster and more roomy lunch service at Rhino Market around the corner. Maybe when they begin serving beer, or change their sandwich recipe entirely, there will be something redeeming enough about Bossy Beulah to venture out to Freedom Drive to try it for lunch.
Until then, Bossy bombs.