Sweet Frog founder’s hot chicken chain heating up with four new locations planned

Derek Cha, left, and Mike Kim opened the first Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken at 10040 Sliding Hill Road in Ashland in May. (BizSense file)

Derek Cha’s new chicken joint is on a hot streak.

The Sweet Frog founder’s fledgling Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken, a Nashville-style hot chicken concept, recently inked leases for two new Richmond-area locations, including one that takes Cha back to where his frozen yogurt days began.

Hangry Joe’s is taking over 11636-8A W. Broad St. near the Regal Cinemas in the Downtown Short Pump shopping center, just a couple doors down from where Cha opened the first Sweet Frog in June 2009.

“I selected that location because it was the original location for Sweet Frog,” said Cha, who has since sold the fro-yo chain. “I’m really excited about the Short Pump area.”

The chain also recently signed a lease on 1501 N. Parham Road, a Sugar Shack storefront at the Ridge Shopping Center.

Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken recently signed a lease for the former Pub space at the Downtown Short Pump shopping center, next to Two Guys Pizza and near the Regal Cinemas.  (Jack Jacobs photo)

The Hangry Joe’s in Short Pump is expected to open later this year or early next year, Cha said. The 2,100-square-foot restaurant is expected to have about 10 employees.

The 1,800-square-foot Parham spot is expected to open toward the end of this year and will compete within eyeshot of a chain that’s at the top of the fast food chicken sandwich pecking order.

“I’m really curious to see how we’ll compare with the Chick-fil-A on the other side of the shopping center,” Cha said.

Also in the works are two new northern Virginia Hangry Joe’s locations in Fairfax and Herndon to open in September and October, respectively.

Those all would add to Hangry Joe’s original store, which Cha and business partner Mike Kim opened in Ashland in May.

Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken serves Nashville-style hot chicken. (BizSense file)

Hangry Joe’s serves chicken sandwiches, tenders and nuggets. Combos run about $12 to $13.

All locations will start as corporate-owned restaurants, though Cha said the plan is to eventually franchise the concept as he did while growing Sweet Frog to several hundred locations.

Cha said he expected to invest $200,000 to $300,000 in each Richmond-area space, and that more Richmond locations are expected to follow.

“We’re continuing to search for good sites,” he said. “I know the Richmond area can handle a couple more of our concepts.”

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Daryl Golden
Daryl Golden
3 months ago

Great article on 🌶🔥🥵 Nashville, TN style chicken restaurant in Short Pump, RVA!😁🐔 Heard that style of chicken is good and hot!🥵😂 Must check out as foodie soon. Thanks!

Paul Stoneman
Paul Stoneman
2 months ago

I recently went to the location on Sliding Hill. Great food and they served up huge portions. Looking forward to seeing more of these pop up around Richmond. Good Luck on your venture!