Fast Food

Two Hot Denver Neighborhoods Land Hollywood Hot Chicken Chain

A picture of Dave's Hot Chicken is worth a thousand words about hot chicken.
A picture of Dave's Hot Chicken is worth a thousand words about hot chicken. Courtesy of Dave's Hot Chicken
Those photos of stacked sandwiches bulging with fried chicken and oozing sauce and cheese can be pretty enticing — whether you're looking to order lunch or open a new business.

Food porn was enough to get restaurant franchisee Jason Beld to commit to bringing Dave's Hot Chicken, a Los Angeles concept with only six current locations, to Denver. Beld, who already runs ten northern and southern Colorado outposts of Fuzzy's Taco Shop with his business partner, Marc Rogers, says he was perusing Nation's Restaurant News when he stumbled upon Dave's. "The product shots are phenomenal; I was immediately hungry," he recalls.

After some research, Beld flew out to California to try the food, knowing from experience that appearances can be deceiving. But in this case the photos didn't lie. "It was the most tender, best-tasting chicken I've ever had," he says.

He and Rogers signed on with Dave's Hot Chicken as franchisees in 2019, when there were still just two locations, both in Hollywood. Dave's, named after co-founder Dave Kopushyan, was only a couple of years old at that point, having started as a pop-up concept in a parking lot, but Beld knew that the budding restaurant group's new CEO was also part of the rapid success of another chain, Blaze Pizza, which has grown to more than 200 units nationwide since launching in 2011.
click to enlarge The new Denver Dave's Hot Chicken locations will look something like this. - COURTESY OF DAVE'S HOT CHICKEN
The new Denver Dave's Hot Chicken locations will look something like this.
Courtesy of Dave's Hot Chicken
Beld and Rogers were also attracted by the simplicity of the chicken chain's menu: tenders and sandwiches in seven heat levels, along with fries and a few other sides. The hottest of the hot chicken is called Reaper (named for the grim guy as well as the fiery chile), which requires a signed waiver before you can eat it.


But Beld notes that success is about more than just good food. Location counts, too. Dave's will initially come to two Denver hot spots: 99 South Broadway in the new Neon Local apartment building, and 1615 Platte Street in the Circa building. The vibe at both will be urban and graffiti-driven, according to Beld, and will cater to customers looking for food "later into the night." While late-night crowds and streets filled with pedestrians aren't happening right now, the two locations are being built with the pandemic in mind. There will be walk-up windows for contactless pick-up, and Beld notes that "mobile ordering is key; the efficiency of that transaction is timeless."

Beyond the food, the locations and the support from corporate headquarters, Beld points out another reason to be optimistic: He and Rogers have successfully run franchises for a combined fifty years, and they know how to hire the right people. "Our perspective is people. We will be successful because we will have the right people — and we will support them," the restaurateur notes.

The business partners plan to open eleven Dave's Hot Chicken stores in Colorado, focusing primarily on Denver and Larimer counties. The Broadway eatery is expected to open in March or April, with Platte Street following in May or June.
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation