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Chicken competition heats up in Charlotte as LA-based restaurant plans expansion here

·3 min read

The chicken restaurant competition is getting hotter in North Carolina as another chain expands into the home turf of chicken-and-biscuit chain Bojangles, based in Charlotte.

Dave’s Hot Chicken, a Los Angeles-based fast-casual brand, is planning to open 12 franchise locations in Charlotte, according to a recent news release. The Charlotte restaurant franchise owners are Nick and Nicole Smith and Jordan Washburn.

It’s the latest move in an ongoing battle over chicken restaurants: Other chains have opened more restaurants or are planning to in Charlotte.

In July, Chick-fil-A opened another restaurant just west of Charlotte in Belmont. Chick-fil-A will reopen a remodeled store, drive-thru only store Sept. 23 at 1540 E. Woodlawn Road in Charlotte, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Slim Chickens, based in Arkansas, is expected to open its first North Carolina restaurant on Nov. 1 in Charlotte’s University area at 5535 Prosperity Ridge Road. At least 14 other locations are planned in the Piedmont Triad area and Fayetteville, as well as in Rock Hill and Columbia.

Fried chicken chain Dave’s Hot Chicken looks to open as many as a dozen sites in Charlotte, home to rival Bojangles
Fried chicken chain Dave’s Hot Chicken looks to open as many as a dozen sites in Charlotte, home to rival Bojangles

About Dave’s Hot Chicken

Dave’s Hot Chicken, which started as a parking lot pop up, has a cult-like following, franchise owner Nick Smith said in the statement. The Smiths own other franchise restaurants including Jersey Mike’s, Moe’s, Mama Fu’s Asian House and Monkey Joe’s.

Four friends, including chef Dave Kopushyan, started selling the Nashville-style spicy chicken four years ago, according to the company.

Dave’s Hot Chicken specializes in hot chicken tenders and sliders, with seven spice levels from “no spice” to “reaper,” according to the company. Sides on the menu include kale slaw, macaroni and cheese, and fries or cheese fries.

When and where Dave’s Hot Chicken locations will open in Charlotte have not been determined, according to Charlotte Axios, which first reported the expansion plans.

The company did not respond to requests for comment from the Observer.

Dave’s Hot Chicken has more than 20 locations in the U.S. and Canada, according to the company website. In January, the company said it would open 10 locations in North Carolina, including in the Triangle, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Jacksonville, the News & Observer in Raleigh reported.

In March, the company had 280 locations in development and 40 restaurants set to open this year, said Shannon Swenson, vice president of franchise development for Dave’s Hot Chicken in an article she posted on LinkedIn.

Bojangles expanding, too

Bojangles, founded in Charlotte in 1977, has been expanding, too, as well as rebranding.

On Tuesday, Bojangles extended its partnership with NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. naming his Mooresville podcast studio the Bojangles Studio. Last year, Earnhardt became the company’s first celebrity advertising partner and voice of the slogan, “It’s Bo Time.”

Bojangles, which has 760 restaurant in 14 states, also rebranded last year dropping the apostrophe from the end of its name. The company recently launched a new hand-breaded Bo’s Chicken Sandwich and a new app.

In the spring, Bojangles said it will open nearly 90 stores, with debuts in Ohio, New York and Texas, while returning to Orlando, Florida. More stores also are planned in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Last year, Bojangles opened its first Illinois and Arkansas stores as part of 40 restaurants opening at Love’s Travel Stops.

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