Sep 29, 2022 - Food and Drink

Fast-casual Nashville-style hot chicken chain opens first Charlotte location

Dave's Hot Chicken in Charlotte

Photos: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

LA-based Dave’s Hot Chicken, which will expand into Charlotte with 12 locations over the next five years, has its grand opening Friday in Plaza Midwood. The second area location will be in University City.

The Plaza Midwood restaurant is in the Midwood Corners plaza, on the corner of Central Avenue and The Plaza. It’s in the 2,000-square-foot space where the Subway used to be. 

  • The shopping center is in the midst of a major makeover, which includes new tenants, aesthetic upgrades and the recent addition of an expansive outdoor patio in front of Dave’s.
  • The University location will be at 8932 J M Keynes Dr., Suite 100 and is set to open in early 2023, according to local owner Nick Smith.
Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

What to expect: Walk into Dave’s and you’re greeted with huge colorful graffiti murals on the walls and loud rock music — a vibe typical of most Dave’s locations.

  • Dave’s, which started as a street-food pop-up in a California parking lot, today boasts a cult-like following. Its locations all over North America, from Dallas to Denver to Toronto.
  • The one place the Nashville-style fast-casual restaurant isn’t? Nashville. “Munch at your own risk,” our Axios Nashville colleague Adam Tamburin quips.

Menu: The key to ordering at Dave’s is selecting the right spice level. There are seven levels, ranging from the extremely spicy reaper flavor to no spice at all (why would you do that, though?).

  • There are four combo options to choose from: two tenders ($11.99), two sliders ($13.99), a mix of both ($12.99) or one slider ($9.99). All come with crinkle-cut fries.
  • Sides include fries, mac & cheese, kale slaw and cheese fries.
  • Dave’s also sells chocolate, strawberry and vanilla milkshakes.

Background: Nick and his wife, Nicole, have been hooked on Dave’s Hot Chicken since they tried it in Dallas several months ago. “It’s addicting,” Nick told Axios. “We were completely blown away.”

  • The duo are experienced restaurant owners in Charlotte, owning and operating 12 (going on 14) Jersey Mike’s for 25 years.

[Related Axios guide: Zara, Wegmans, Wawa and 9 other retailers Charlotte wants]

Locations: The Smiths have their sights set on South End, south Charlotte, Ballantyne and other areas for potential locations.

  • The spaces will feel hip, Nicole says. “You’ll want to be there.”
  • They’re looking for restaurants that are about 2,000 to 2,500 square feet.

Zoom out: Charlotte is undeniably lacking on Nashville-style hot chicken restaurants — despite our relatively close proximity to the Music City — so it’s interesting to see how aggressively this California-based chain is entering the market.

Plaza Midwood hours: Monday-Thursday: 11am-10pm; Friday and Saturday: 11am-11pm; Sunday: 11am-9pm.

[Related Axios guide: Top 10 fried chicken spots in Charlotte]

Here’s what it looks like:

 

Editor’s note: We first published this story on Sept. 15, 2021. We last updated it on Sept. 28, 2022.

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