Guest Blog: How Hot Chicken Takeover Took Over Columbus

hot chicken takeoverIf you don’t know about this restaurant, you will soon. It was just named by Columbus Alive as the best new restaurant in 2015 based on a reader’s poll. I bet what you didn’t know is how the owner, Joe Deloss makes a concerted to hire people who need a second chance. He is big on community and family. I had the opportunity to interview him about his company and business model.

What’s in a name?  “Hot Chicken Takeover*” You literally have taken over Columbus with your restaurant! I know there is always a great story behind a great product. What was the inspiration for the name? We wanted to build a brand that was bigger than just chicken. About a sense of community and a greater purpose for community impact – that’s what the asterisk and the ‘takeover’ is all about.

What are some of the marketing efforts that you plan to implement to take HCT to a higher level? We’re launching a Neighborhood Tour campaign via social to determine new sites + additional social media engagement/competitions

Has your business model been patterned after any other businesses? We loved the atmosphere and community feeling of barbecue and hot chicken restaurants/shacks throughout Nashville. We also love Bakesale Betty’s in Oakland.

What cities do you plan on expanding to? I know you’re still a very new company, but with the noise you’re making, (Huffington Post, Sport Illustrated) capitalization is everything. Would you ever open a location in Chicago? Our biggest focus now is building a system strong enough to replicate. We love communities like Chicago and Pittsburg, but will focus our immediate growth opportunities locally.

You recently spoke at the Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship event. I didn’t know you employed felons and other people that normally wouldn’t be given a chance to help get them on their feet. On top of it being awesome, what made this a point of interest for you? What else does Hot Chicken Takeover* do to benefit the community? The catalyst for HCT was our desire to be a supportive employer, that’s what came first. The brand and business concept was always intended to be a foundation for greater impact. HCT employees have access to a round of unconventional benefits supporting personal stability and professional development – everything from PTO to matched savings accounts.

When will the HCT truck be up and running?! Now. Come see us at the MAPFRE stadium.

In my opinion you’ve hugely unseated Cane’s as the best fried chicken in Columbus, Ohio. What prompted you to season the chicken the way you do and where do you see HCT in five years? Ten? We love Cane’s in fact – we’re really playing in different markets and industries (quick-serve versus fast casual). The local Cane’s franchisee, RCO Limited, also has an unbelievable commitment to their employees – something we really admire. We aspire to build a multi-unit operation. A lot more impact. A lot more chicken.

To all the business owners that have struggled and are struggling to get off the ground, given your success what advice could you provide them? You’ve got to relinquish the ego of your concept and brand – we’ve pivoted half a dozen times because of great customer and community feedback. We also focus a lot of energy on making our business personal for customers. When something goes wrong, we want first dibs on fixing it.

What volunteer opportunities do you provide for people wanting to give back to the community, if any? Giving back is part of our business model, no volunteers needed at the moment – just great staff and leaders.

Jay Jones is an author, blogger and freelance copywriter. He has specialized expertise in self-help, fitness and sports. When he’s not working on his debut novel, “The Profiler”, he enjoys his family, fitness and music.

For business inquiries please reach Jay by e-mail at:
Jay Jones lives in Westerville, Ohio.

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