Hot Chicken in the City. (Growing Wild and Sitting Pretty).

I came up with the first part of the title for this post based on a case competition we had today for our students.

When I said the name of the company to myself (Hot Chicken Takeover), the first thought that came to my mind was Nick Gilder’s song, “Hot Child in the City”, but I couldn’t think of a clever second part to go with it, so I just used a slight variation on the original lyrics. I’m sure someone more clever than I am could come up with something more creative.

Anyway, today was the semi-annual Villanova School of Business Bartley BriefCase Challenge. The event is held each semester for our junior business majors and involves their analysis of a Harvard Business School case. If you would like to learn more about it, here is a post I wrote a couple of years ago that describes how the competition works.

The case chosen this year was about Hot Chicken Takeover (HCT), a Columbus, OH fast-casual restaurant that specializes in Hot Chicken.

While the product is unique, what really stands out for me is HCT’s culture and mission.

But before I talk about that, let me just share some basic info about the company, from its web site:

Founded in 2015, Hot Chicken Takeover started as a pop-up window in Columbus’ Olde Towne East neighborhood. Today, we have three restaurants throughout Central Ohio and are opening our first out of market location this fall at Crocker Park in Westlake, Ohio. 

Since day one, Hot Chicken Takeover has been serving made to order, Nashville-style hot chicken and delicious sides. Our Sweet Tea is always free and our House Ranch is on tap to help curb the cayenne-infused hot chicken heat that builds as you dig into your meal.

Hot Chicken Takeover attracts an eclectic mix of customers, striving to build a community around long shared tables, making the experience feel more like a backyard barbecue or block party. So when you come, be ready to introduce yourself and have a good time. Hot Chicken Takeover is about way more than food.

But the true distinction for Hot Chicken Takeover is its fair chance approach to hiring people. Here is  a short description of this approach, again from the company’s web site:

HCT’s about more than just chicken. It’s about our people. Beyond an extraordinary community of customers, HCT provides supportive jobs to men and women who need a fair chance at work. No matter the circumstances — homelessness, previous incarceration, or other barriers to employment — HCT is focused on the future and is dedicated to offering team members meaningful benefits, such as financial stability, personal growth, and professional development (see below for a listing of such benefits..

Our work environment is fun, energetic, and rewarding. We work hard to give our team members significant opportunities to grow, regardless of previous experience or education. Because of that, everybody starts in the same place— on our dish tank. From there, your career path is up to you. You’ll get promoted as you master positions in the front and back-of-house— everything from the cash register to the chicken fryer. We offer competitive benefits focused on personal + professional growth.The image below highlight some of those unusual benefits:

So rather than avoiding hiring people who have had troubled backgrounds, Joe Deloss, the founder, actively seeks out such individuals and offers them a chance for a better future.

The business model seems to be working. HCT just added its fourth location, in the Cleveland area, and introduced a vegan chicken option. You can bet the next time we visit our son in Cleveland, we will be making a stop at HTC.

Here is a wonderful video that showcases a little bit about the company and what it is trying to do

It is great to see someone who is trying to make a difference in his community. It is a company where employees come first, with the assumption that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of the customer. One interesting stat that the case brought out that there is roughly the same amount of people who have spent time in prison as there are college grads.

I wish Joe Deloss and his employees all the best and thank him for taking action to make a difference in the lives of these “hidden” people.

Finally, as promised, here is Nick Gilder’s Hot Child in the City.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv6tuzHUuuk

14 thoughts on “Hot Chicken in the City. (Growing Wild and Sitting Pretty).

  1. We have a family business here in the UK named Timpson’s. They fix anything to do with watches, keys, passport photos and so on. They make a point of employing people who have been in prison. It does my heart good.

  2. You have got to admire businesses that put helping others as part of their business plan. I hope that they keep on doing it, and be successful in doing so.

  3. The initiative is literally going on in my backyard (so to speak). Living in the Columbus area, it is difficult to keep up on everything. I appreciated reading about this unique business.

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