Chicken was in high demand during the pandemic. From wings to sandwiches, America couldn’t get enough fried poultry. It’s no surprise, then, that more than any other restaurant concept, fast-casual chicken chains have been able to not only weather the setbacks of lockdown, but also grow sales by more than 24% in 2021, according to recent data.
California-based Dave’s Hot Chicken laid a golden egg during this time. The restaurant chain, which started as a single parking lot stand, saw a massive 262% increase in sales last year, according to Data from Technomic’s Top 500 Restaurant Chains. She also managed to increase her height by 471%, from just seven restaurants in 2020 at 61 pitches it currently operates in the United States. These impressive stats have earned Dave the title of fastest growing channel in America.
With stores across 13 statesDave’s Hot Chicken found success serving a simple menus chicken tenders and Nashville-style sandwiches. Nashville style is a southern style of hot fried chicken that is usually seasoned with a cayenne pepper mixture and served with a pickle to offset the heat. But Dave’s prepares its chicken using chef-owner Dave Kopushyan’s proprietary spice blend, ranging from mild to “The Reaper.”
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While chicken wing orders flooded delivery apps and the Cchicken sandwich war brought all the fast food giants into the ring, Nashville Hot Chicken also started having a moment. Grubhub reported 327% year-over-year growth in hot chicken orders for the first half of 2021, according to Catering company.
When Dave’s Hot Chicken started in 2017, the timing couldn’t have been better to get into the hot chicken game. In just two years, the company was able to recruit Bill Phelps, an industry veteran who started Blaze Pizza, as CEO.
“Dave’s Hot Chicken has one of the biggest origin stories in the restaurant business, with the founders starting Dave’s as a pop-up restaurant in a Hollywood parking lot complete with a portable air fryer and picnic tables from their backyard just five years ago.” Phelps said in a press release.
Startups like Dave’s Hot Chicken weren’t the only ones getting a piece of the chicken pot pie during this time. According to TechnomicRaising Cane’s and Wingstop saw their sales increase by 35% and 20% respectively in 2021, while medium-sized Chicken Salad Chick increased their sales by 45.6%.
Hot chicken fans can expect more from Dave’s Hot Chicken, as the company recently earned a hip-hop star Drake’s investmentfollowing other big backers like Boston Red Sox president Tom Werner and actor Samuel L. Jackson.
Amber Lake is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! and holds a journalism degree from UNF in Jacksonville, Florida. Read more