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Wednesday, May 22
The Indiana Daily Student

bloomington

Dave’s Hot Chicken opens Bloomington location

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Dave’s Hot Chicken will open its new location in Bloomington Thursday, at the intersection of East Kirkwood Avenue and South Grant Street, making it one of the newest restaurants in the downtown area. 

Patrons can visit the restaurant in person or order online. The fast-casual restaurant chain will be open Sunday through Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to midnight and between 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The new location is one of more than 100 locations to open since the first Dave’s Hot Chicken opened in 2017.  

In May 2021, the restaurant chain had plans to open a Bloomington location in one to two years to replace The Pourhouse Café — which previously occupied the space. The local café closed in October 2020. 

[Related: New Bloomington location of Chicken Salad Chick opens Wednesday]

Dan Bennett, the Bloomington location’s general manager and Bloomington native, said he is excited to come “home” after being across the Midwest for 26 years and managing other restaurant chain locations. 

“Dave’s Hot Chicken is the exact right thing for Kirkwood Avenue,” Bennett said. “It’s a new, fast-growing and exciting concept.” 

The restaurant specializes in Nashville-style hot chicken sliders and tenders. Customers have the option to choose one of its seven levels of “heat” ranging from no spice to “reaper,” which requires customers to sign a waiver. All slider and tender meals come with “Dave’s sauce,” a creamy chipotle mayo sauce. The menu also offers house-made French fries, macaroni and cheese, kale slaw and three flavors of milkshakes. 

“We were started by a classically trained chef so we do Nashville-style hot chicken like it would be done if a fine dining chef did it,” Bennett said. “We don’t try to be all things to all people; we do what we do perfectly well, and we think our product is good enough that that’s all we need to do.” 

[Related: Bloomington Denny's closed permanently last week]

Bennett said Dave’s uses free-range, halal chicken. The chicken is brined for over eight hours in a proprietary brine before it is prepped. The chicken is then breaded, deep fried and seasoned with one of the seven spices. 

Andy Qualiato, the restaurant’s area coach, focuses on franchise development through customer relations, restaurant management, staff recruitment and staff retention. He said Dave’s will provide a fun and energetic atmosphere for IU students and Bloomington residents. The walls are covered with artistic murals and graffiti. One wall features the Bloomington skyline, the IU trident logo and contains the words “Bloomington” and “Hoosier” written in graffiti.  

The inside portion of the restaurant will seat more than 40 guests and there will be additional seating for more than 50 guests on the front and side porches of the restaurant. 

“We are excited about turning our guests into fans of Dave’s Hot Chicken,” Qualiato said. 

[Related: BloomingTea owners announce the business will be closing, last day will be Dec. 23]

Some IU students are already fans of the Nashville-style hot chicken restaurant. Caleb Williams, a freshman studying finance and accounting, visited other locations and said he is excited for Dave’s to open in Bloomington. He said his favorite part about the restaurant is the sliders and the atmosphere. 

“I’m from a pretty small town in general so I really don’t get the opportunity to have one of those really cool restaurants that started on the West coast,” Williams said. 

Correction: This story has been updated to specify the restaurant opened Thursday. This was based on information provided by the restaurant.

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