COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–Dave’s Hot Chicken is prepping a pair of sites for its Columbus debut.

The California-based Nashville-style hot chicken restaurant chain earlier this year said it planned to bring as many as 13 restaurants to Central Ohio in the coming years.

It has leases for two already.

Dave’s Hot Chicken will be joining University Square at the redeveloped 15th and High intersection near Ohio State University. The restaurant, slated to open next year, will join other tenants like LemonShark Poké & Makai Grill and Roots Natural Kitchen.

The hot chicken joint also will have a unit at 3590 W. Dublin-Granville Road, a former Payless ShoeSource store.

Franchisee Todd Hollman said the two sites are ideal introductions for the brand to the new market. Being next to Ohio State will capture the college crowd with its menu of chicken fingers and slider sandwiches ranging from plain to reaper hot with flavors in between and sides like mac-and-cheese and kale slaw.

The Dublin-Granville site near Dublin has a good split of both daytime and nighttime traffic plus a good demographic mix.

At 3,000 square feet, that space is on the large side for a Dave’s Hot Chicken, but Hollman said the ability to have a drive-thru and both indoor and outdoor seating was a big draw.

The franchisees are not yet sure which unit will open first.

Hollman’s franchise group includes partners Tyler Freeland and Matt Fortney. The Indiana-based operators also are Pizza Hut franchisees with 45 locations in that state. Hollman previously said their pizzeria holdings had included some Columbus units, but those were sold to local operators several years ago.

Still, because of that, the group knows Columbus well.

Fortney said they’re actively looking for other sites around the market as well.

The chain, which was founded in 2017 in Los Angeles, is growing fast. It had just 10 restaurants earlier this year when the Columbus plans were announced. It has 32 open now.

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