How Hot Chicken Takeover is Reinventing the Fast Casual Experience

“Our mission is clear now — simply put, we want to keep creating extraordinary experiences for extraordinary people,” says Joe DeLoss.

On this episode of Emerging Brands, Joe DeLoss—the founder of fast casual restaurant chain Hot Chicken Takeover—discusses bringing Nashville-style fried chicken to Columbus, Ohio. Inspired by Nashville restaurant favorites Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack and Monell’s, Joe DeLoss decided to create his own hot chicken restaurant chain.

Monell’s had family-style southern meals every day of the week,” says DeLoss. “You would join a table with ten other people, and I fell in love with the communal experience. Most guests walking into a fast casual restaurant don’t remember being called out or greeted—our question was, how do we build the infrastructure of our restaurant around recreating that communal experience for our guests and employees?”

Over the last decade, Joe DeLoss has worked in a number of industries in an effort to create employment opportunities for people experiencing or who have experienced incarceration, homelessness, and other hardships. Founded in 2014, Hot Chicken Takeover has become a breakout brand in the Midwest. The chain boasts an excellent employee retention rate and an ever-growing customer base.

In this podcast, DeLoss details his retention and employee development goals as well as the core values of the fast casual chain.

The Hot Chicken Takeover team endeavors to operate from a place of “bold humility” in everything they do. “We listen to everything we hear and take it very seriously. Our goal is to acknowledge and address trends that our customers are experiencing before they become large problems,” explains DeLoss. “We know that we can always improve, and we’re unwilling to get in the way of progress. We measure an employee’s performance against that.”

Listen to the above podcast to learn more about the future of Hot Chicken Takeover, and check out our Emerging Brands podcast to hear from other rising leaders in the restaurant industry. You can also download the Top 150 Emerging Brands Guide to check out the full list of emerging brands from Foodable Labs.

This post is brought to you by Tyson Foods. To learn more, visit The Modern Chef Network.

Tuning Up Nashville's Music City Center

Can you picture a massive building with organic lines and curves that flow like the shapes of Nashville's rolling hills or the Music City's melodic sounds? With ceilings that mimic the patterns and structure of grand piano keys? Or rooms with walls that bend, filled with acoustics that make you feel as if you're standing inside of a mandolin or guitar?

The movement and fluidity of music itself was the design inspiration for the Music City Center. This center takes on the idea of a city's brand identity to a whole new level. And at 300,000 square feet of exhibit hall space, 60,000 square feet of ballroom space, and 1.2 million square feet of space in total, this convention center is music to any event director's ears. The center was needed to bring new life and business into Nashville, and needed to expand in the city's downtown urban setting, according to Charles Starks, the complex's president and CEO. He wanted the center to look like nowhere else in the world.

 In this episode of "BUILT.," in partnership with FCSI The Americas,  FCSI consultant Michael Pantano of Culinary Advisors, tvsdesign, and the visionaries behind the Music City Center work in harmony to turn this building into the pinnacle of flexibility, sustainability, and foodservice excellence.  

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In terms of functionality, Pantano always thinks like a chef. Aware that only 25 percent of a kitchen needs to be in fixed positions, whether due to the cooking line or exhaust hoods, he was able to make everything else mobile. Just as the entire convention center was flexible and fluid — without fixed concession stands or fixed dining areas so that the space could be reshaped — the kitchen could move with the needs of clients, too, able to fluctuate from serving six to six thousand.

"Our food sales have over doubled what we had projected initially and we've become known in Nashville as a place to go to for food. Not the convention center, but a place to go to for food," Starks said.

The Future Through Sustainability

The beautiful architecture and foodservice aren't the only things that set this design paragon apart from the rest. This space is also sustainable.

Above it lies a 4-acre green roof, the largest one in the Southeast, growing 14 types of vegetation. The center also has a solar farm and honey bees on site for the kitchens. The staff  keeps close relations with local farmers to serve food with a farm-to-table feel. The Music City Center also has a 360,000-gallon rainwater storage system that captures rainfall and utilizes it, not only to irrigate its plants and landscaping but also to flush their sewage system. That has led to 54 percent saving in the building's water usage in three years.

Watch the full episode above now!

 
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Historic Husk Bar Brings New Life to Old-Fashioned Classics

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The Husk Bar is found downstairs in what used to be the master bedroom of a historic 1800s home in Rutledge Hill. Upstairs you will find the James Beard Award-winning restaurant, Husk Restaurant. The bar has an attached patio, and right outside, you will find an atrium providing something more than just a garden view. In the atrium lives the Husk’s herb garden, where bartender Mike Wolf picks herbs and garnishes at season’s peak, often inspiring new cocktail recipes.

In this episode of “Across the Bar,” Paul Barron travels to downtown Nashville to see what they’re stirring up at the Husk Bar.

Cocktail No. 1: Robotic Reaction

In order to turn out a drink with intense color, Wolf tried his hand at a Midori Cocktail using Centenario Plata tequila. Pulling some salad burnet from the Husk herb garden to intensify the melon flavor and finishing it off with a housemade tincture, the Robotic Reaction transforms the intensely sweet flavor of Midori into a more organic tasting cocktail with a kick.

Recipe:

  • Muddled Cucumber

  • Fresh Salad Burnet

  • Sea Salt

  • Happed Grapefruit Bitters

  • Lemon and Lime Juice

  • Midori

  • Centenario Plata Tequila

  • Cucumber-Salad Burnet Tincture

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Cocktail No. 2 : Ol’ Sorgy

The Ol’ Sorgy is a take on a classic Old Fashioned using Barrel-aged sorghum syrup infused with dried Magnolia leaves that give off a whiskey bourbon-like aroma. Wolf perfected the recipe once he found that “sorghum and Wheated Bourbon had this really nice affinity with each other.”

Recipe:

  • Whiskey barrel bitters

  • Lemon Peel

  • Honey Vinegar

  • Tansy Tincture

  • Weller 107 Wheated Bourbon

Cocktail No. 3: The H is Silent

This final cocktail shows the true skill of the bar at Husk. Using their own housemade Cara Cara Orange Curacao, Wolf creates a unique drink that Host Paul Barron can’t get enough of.

Recipe:

  • Cara Cara Orange Curacao

  • Lime Juice

  • La Cartuja Red Wine

  • Barrel Select Rhum Agricole

  • Abbott's Bitters

  • Cara Cara Orange Garnish

BUILT.: Tuning Up Nashville's Music City Center

Can you picture a massive building with organic lines and curves that flow like the shapes of Nashville's rolling hills or the Music City's melodic sounds? With ceilings that mimic the patterns and structure of grand piano keys? Or rooms with walls that bend, filled with acoustics that make you feel as if you're standing inside of a mandolin or guitar?

The movement and fluidity of music itself was the design inspiration for the Music City Center. This center takes on the idea of a city's brand identity to a whole new level. And at 300,000 square feet of exhibit hall space, 60,000 square feet of ballroom space, and 1.2 million square feet of space in total, this convention center is music to any event director's ears. The center was needed to bring new life and business into Nashville, and needed to expand in the city's downtown urban setting, according to Charles Starks, the complex's president and CEO. He wanted the center to look like nowhere else in the world.

How did this design come to life? Through intense and creative collaboration. In this episode of "BUILT.," in partnership with FCSI The Americas, watch to see how FCSI consultant Michael Pantano of Culinary Advisors, tvsdesign, and the visionaries behind the Music City Center worked in harmony to turn this building into the pinnacle of flexibility, sustainability, and foodservice excellence.  

The Challenge and Design

As the firm that led design for four out of five of the nation's largest convention centers and for about 80 projects around the world, it's no doubt tvsdesign knows their stuff. So, what are the most important aspects of a successful space? Functionality and foodservice, according to Rob Svedberg, principal of tvsdesign.

"One of the most important things that the customers respond to is the quality of foodservice, the range of the food offerings, and how well it's presented and prepared," Svedberg said.

This is where FCSI consultant Michael Pantano stepped in. 

"I think it's critically important that every kitchen [has] a professional designer involved. In most cases, I'd like to say that's an FCSI consultant, because to achieve professional status, we had to demonstrate our competence and our body of knowledge, and our understanding of the entire process," Pantano said. 

One element that the designers of the Music City Center emphasized was the need for bright lighting. Pantano also took that to the kitchen, because as he said, chefs and cooks are people, too, and deserve to be proud of their workspace and equipment.

"Most kitchens are down in the bowels of a building some place because wherever daylight exists is premium space, so we worked very hard to keep things low to allow all of the daylight to come in. Extraordinarily uncommon, but very beneficial," he said. "Foodservice really is throughout the building, woven into the very fabric of the building."

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In terms of functionality, Pantano always thinks like a chef. Aware that only 25 percent of a kitchen needs to be in fixed positions, whether due to the cooking line or exhaust hoods, he was able to make everything else mobile. Just as the entire convention center was flexible and fluid — without fixed concession stands or fixed dining areas so that the space could be reshaped — the kitchen could move with the needs of clients, too, able to fluctuate from serving six to six thousand.

"Our food sales have over doubled what we had projected initially and we've become known in Nashville as a place to go to for food. Not the convention center, but a place to go to for food," Starks said.

The Future Through Sustainability

The beautiful architecture and foodservice aren't the only things that set this design paragon apart from the rest. This space is also sustainable.

Above it lies a 4-acre green roof, the largest one in the Southeast, growing 14 types of vegetation. The center also has a solar farm and honey bees on site for the kitchens. The staff also keeps close relations with local farmers to serve food with a farm-to-table feel. The Music City Center also has a 360,000-gallon rainwater storage system that captures rainfall and utilizes it, not only to irrigate its plants and landscaping, but also to flush their sewage system. That has led to 54 percent saving in the building's water usage in three years.

Watch the full episode now, and as Pantano states, discover how the Music City Center speaks for itself.