Sunday, December 4 2022

(Image courtesy of Dave’s Hot Chicken)

Indianapolis will soon add to its small flock of hot chicken restaurants with the entry of another chain, which plans to nestle on Massachusetts Avenue downtown.

A Fort Wayne-based group of franchisees intends to open a location for Los Angeles-based chain Dave’s Hot Chicken at 530 Massachusetts Ave in the Pennrose on Mass Apartments development, according to building design information filed May 21. September with the State.

The Mass Ave location is part of a larger plan to open at least 10 Dave locations in central Indiana. Franchise group Dave Diggity signed a deal with the chain earlier this year to open 15 Dave’s Hot Chicken locations in Indiana and 13 more in the Columbus, Ohio market.

The Pennrose on Mass restaurant will be approximately 3,200 square feet, according to state filing.

The Dave Diggity franchise group is made up of partners Todd Hollman, Tyler Freeland and Matt Fortney. All three are experienced restaurant franchisees. Through the Pizza Hut franchise group of Fort Wayne Inc., they own and operate more than 40 Pizza Hut locations throughout northeast and central Indiana, including Hamilton and Boone counties.

Freeland’s grandfather, the late Dick Freeland, founded Pizza Hut of Fort Wayne Inc. in 1972.

Hollman told IBJ in May that the group is considering locations around Indianapolis, including downtown sites, as well as nearby suburbs in Hamilton and Johnson counties. The group also has franchise rights in Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Bloomington and Muncie.

Hollman said the goal is to open all 28 locations in Indiana and Ohio within five years. It’s unclear if the Mass Ave location will be the first to open. Dave Diggity’s partners did not respond to IBJ’s requests for comment Monday morning, and the channel’s website does not list any Indiana locations as “open” or “coming soon.”

Dave’s Hot Chicken offers a limited menu focused on “Nashville hot” style chicken, with seven heat levels ranging from “no spice” to “harvester”.

The concept originated in 2017, when chef Dave Kopushyan and three friends teamed up to serve chicken and sides at a pop-up location in an East Hollywood parking lot. After six months, they opened their first physical location in January 2018 in East Hollywood.

The company now has 25 locations across California, Texas, Nevada, Illinois, Colorado, Oregon and Ontario. 11 more locations are listed on the chain’s website as “coming soon” in California, Texas, Ontario, Michigan, Colorado and Illinois.

According to restaurant industry publication QSR Magazine, Dave’s Hot Chicken plans to open 40 locations this year, and it has signed agreements with 26 franchisees who plan to open 359 locations, including locations in the areas of Boston, Oklahoma City and Cleveland, among others.

The CEO of Dave’s Hot Chicken is Bill Phelps, who co-founded Wetzel’s Pretzels and was also an early investor in the Blaze Pizza restaurant chain.

The hot chicken trend has already taken off in the Indianapolis area. Louisville-based Joella’s Hot Chicken entered the Indianapolis market in 2016 and now has three restaurants in Carmel, Broad Ripple and East 96.and Street corridor.

California-based World Famous Hotboys plans to open a restaurant in Peppy’s Grill’s former location at 1004 Virginia Ave.

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