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LA-Based Dave’s Hot Chicken to Open First Chicago-Area Location This Week

16 area locations, including North Center, are planned

Dave’s Hot Chicken
Dave’s Hot Chicken is on its way to Chicago.
Farley Elliot/Eater LA

An LA phenomenon, Dave’s Hot Chicken — a sandwich shop that drew massive late-night lines when it debuted as a pop-up in 2017 — is this week arriving in the Chicago area, starting with suburban Naperville. After humble beginnings where cooks fried up spicy tenders at a tented parking lot, Dave’s found investors willing to open restaurants across the country. Dave’s has opened in Vegas, Colorado, Toronto, Dallas, and San Diego.

Dave’s made its intentions to enter the Chicago market known in 2020. The Naperville location, 2736 Showplace Drive, should open on Friday, July 30, according to a rep. Ownership plans to open 16 locations across the city and suburbs. The first location in Chicago proper should in late 2021. A rep also says Dave’s is coming to North Center sometime in quarter four at 3643 N. Western Avenue, which is just north of Lane Tech High School.

A colorful fast-food restaurant’s interiors.
Dave’s Hot Chicken is opening in Naperville.
Dave’s Hot Chicken

The chain offers fried tenders in seven levels of heat from no-heat to “reaper” which includes one of those cute waivers for customers to sign warning them of the intense heat that could lead to GI trouble. Dave’s brokered a deal in 2019 with Bill Phelps — co-founder of Wetzel’s Pretzels — to sell franchising rights to 300 locations in the U.S. and Canada, according to a news release. Notable investors include actor Samuel L. Jackson, Good Morning America host and former NFL player Michael Strahan, and former journalist and California First Lady Maria Shriver.

Chicago has plenty of Nashville hot chicken spots from Fry The Coop to Budlong. The dishes’ origin starts at Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, but the dish has made it nationwide over the last 10 or so years. Now, Dave’s hopes the country’s appetite for spicy fried chicken hasn’t cooled through the pandemic. Stay tuned for updates.

Dave’s Hot Chicken, 2736 Showplace Drive in Naperville, planned to open Friday, July 30.

Dave’s Hot Chicken, 3643 N. Western Avenue, planned for a quarter four opening.

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