Richmond’s former frozen yogurt king dishes up hot chicken concept

Richmond’s former frozen yogurt king dishes up hot chicken concept

Derek Cha, left, and Mike Kim opened Hangry Joe’s Incredibly hot Hen at 10040 Sliding Hill Street in Ashland. (Noah Daboul photos)

A lot has transpired to Derek Cha in the 6 several years considering the fact that he sold Sweet Frog and it has not been as clean a path as the one particular he rode to getting to be Richmond’s frozen yogurt king.

He experimented with and unsuccessful with one more franchise thought, a Chipotle-fashion Korean cafe identified as Zzaam.

Then arrived legal difficulties when he moved from Richmond to Northern Virginia, wherever he was arrested and observed guilty of a domestic battery charge and sentenced to 30 times in jail in 2019.

Now he’s again in additional acquainted territory — developing a new company in the Richmond area. This time, it is a Nashville-design sizzling hen joint known as Hangry Joe’s Sizzling Chicken.

Cha and organization companion Mike Kim very last month released the first of what they hope will be several Hangry Joe’s places in a renovated former Sweet Frog storefront that Cha even now owns at 10040 Sliding Hill Road in Ashland.

“I’m fired up and I hope that it’s going to be a massive strike,” Cha stated. “I’m hoping for even greater achievement (than with Sweet Frog).”

Cha and Kim, who had a Korean barbecue restaurant in Northern Virginia for practically 30 years in advance of closing throughout the pandemic, are looking to capitalize on what they mentioned is a very hot hen fad playing out in certain metropolitan areas all around the U.S.

“We acquired into this incredibly hot hen small business mainly because it has been undertaking really nicely in the Los Angeles region. There are various destinations that have been doing unbelievably effectively,” mentioned Cha.

Hangry Joe’s Incredibly hot Chicken serves Nashville-design and style sizzling rooster.

They traveled to scorching places these types of as L.A., San Francisco and Nashville, wherever the recipe’s origins are traced, scoping out the opposition and acquiring their possess recipes.

“We decided to seem into it and we frequented Nashville exactly where it originated. We experimented with all of the incredibly hot chicken sandwiches in Nashville, and we put in various months there to definitely get a really feel for the taste of this type of chicken.”

The duo went into small business collectively soon after being aware of every single other for about two yrs pursuing an introduction from Kim’s sister. Commencing with this initially site, their system is to franchise the strategy, like Cha did about time as he grew Sweet Frog to hundreds of locations worldwide, just before providing his stake in excess of the study course of at minimum two deals.

“We determined we could do this on our personal,” Cha stated. “(Kim) has a wealth of working experience in meals principles and I have a wealth of practical experience in franchising. So, we made a decision to team up and get started this concept in Richmond, which is a excellent industry to carry in new principles,” Cha claimed.

Kim and Cha invested about a yr researching and building the menu for Hangry Joe’s. A large amount of this was tasting the competition’s offerings and attempting recipes out of Kim’s bakery. They stated that they desired to retain the menu straightforward and targeted on the very hot chicken sandwich, which has been their most important vendor considering that opening in Could.

The chicken will come in 5 concentrations of warmth, ranging from plain to “Angry Warm.” This can be selected for any hen dish on their menu, from nuggets to hen and waffles.

Though they just take impact from Nashville hen, Kim and Cha reported they also required to hold some of their Korean culture in their recipes with Korean-style nuggets and exclusive sauces.

“I believe that, and my prospects do as nicely, that it’s the very best rooster sandwich you can discover out there,” Cha mentioned.

It is hard to pass up the huge hen on the roof of the new Hangry Joe’s Sizzling Rooster restaurant.

Cha said they are undertaking in between $5,000 and $8,000 in day-to-day profits — a range he said they are extremely pleased with.

Kim and Cha renovated the previous Sweet Frog building for just under $200,000. Cha mentioned the venture took about 90 days to total.

The firm is already wanting to expand. They are at the moment negotiating a lease in Limited Pump and are also wanting at the former Sugar Shack locale at 1501 N. Parham Highway, as effectively as a several others in the operates.

Cha explained they hope to expand the Hangry Joe’s identify across the state as well as throughout Virginia. They have connections in Dallas, Texas and Georgia that they hope will lead to areas in people states, he claimed.

Cha described the start of Hangry Joe’s as a restart of sorts.

In addition to the failure of Zzaam, which at just one position had six locations, Cha was arrested in late 2018 on a domestic battery demand for an assault on his wife and was discovered responsible by a Fairfax County jury in 2019. He was sentenced to 30 times in jail, but experienced now served his time when awaiting demo.

“I sense like I was at my most affordable point at that instant. The rock base,” Cha stated of his authorized problems and ensuing divorce. “There’s no other way to go down below that. It’s like Hell.”

As he pondered a path to get his existence back on keep track of, he landed on the route of launching a new enterprise.

“I was down but not out. To bounce back again was a no-brainer. The only way was up,” he stated. “I’ve finished a great deal of working out, a whole lot of pondering and praying for a new undertaking, and my lover and I arrived up with this. Seriously, via the grace of God, I am again in a extremely meaningful way.”

Share This Post