As 2020 comes to a close, it is all too easy to focus on the chaos and challenges faced throughout the year. However with all the bad, came both good and silver linings. And as we know well at Endeavor, when economies turns down, entrepreneurs turn up! Endeavor Entrepreneur and founder of Ohio-based restaurant chain Hot Chicken Takeover, Joe DeLoss, did just that. Nestled in the foodservice industry (one of the hardest hit industries throughout the pandemic), when things turned for the worst, Joe and Hot Chicken Takeover honed in on their mission to not only serve up great fried chicken, but also serve the greater Columbus and Ohio communities.

Hot Chicken Takeover Joe Deloss Takes on Covid 19

Founded in 2014, Joe DeLoss saw Hot Chicken Takeover as an opportunity to do two things: bring people together with great-tasting comfort food, and create a culture that was inclusive and empowering to the community. Over the last six years, the Endeavor Company has helped people with histories of incarceration, recovering from addictions, or just in need of a second chance by hiring, employing, and supporting them at Hot Chicken Takeover locations.  

Keeping this mission and promise alive became increasingly difficult this year, as the spread of the coronavirus forced Joe to close all Hot Chicken Takeover restaurant doors on March 20, and look for other ways to serve both food and his employees. Not only was keeping employees paid a concern, but without a stable routine and steady income for his team, Joe was worried what might happen to those recovering from addiction or facing challenging personal situations.

“Recovery, that’s something that affects a lot of our team members,” Joe said in an interview with The Columbus Dispatch. “Recovery and sobriety, it’s a matter of life and death for a lot of people … so we want to be hyper dialed into that.”

In an effort to ease the stress for employees, the restaurant set up a special website to help Hot Chicken Takeover team members navigate the COVID-19 crisis and any financial difficulties that may arise. A flexible fund of extra customer gratuity was also created to provide workers with some financial stability while they were out of work. Most importantly, employees continued to receive pay and benefits thanks to government and community relief, including a loan from Social Ventures, a Columbus group that advocates, develops and funds businesses that help solve social problems.

Even while managing the company’s financial stability, Joe still found ways to support the community around them. Just a few weeks into the initial spring wave of Covid-19 and stay-at-home orders, Hot Chicken Takeover donated 3,000 pounds of chicken to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank to help feed families in need. 

“This global health crisis is a lot bigger than fried chicken, and we’re committed to doing our part so we can come back together stronger than before,” Joe said in an interview with ABC6.

And after two months of an unfortunate, but necessary shutdown, Hot Chicken Takeover re-opened their Clintonville location doors on May 18 to record sales, serving more than 1,000 eager HCT fans with takeout orders.

Some may call it karma, but we’d just chalk it up to incredible entrepreneurial spirit and tasty spicy fried chicken.

Learn more about Hot Chicken Takeover here.