Joe DeLoss Strives to Not Simply Serve, but to Passionately Solve
“I believe in work. If somebody doesn’t create something, however small it may be, he gets sick. An awful lot of people feel that they’re treading water — that if they vanished in smoke, it wouldn’t mean anything at all in this world. And that’s a despairing and destructive feeling. It’ll kill you.” ― Arthur Miller
Raised in a hardworking, compassionate and service-centric family, Joe DeLoss grew up as a serial entrepreneur with a desire to better others.
Even as he grew older, and his life became busier with school, a business, and a growing family, Joe continued to make time to serve those who had less than he. He volunteered with the elderly, the homeless, the incarcerated and the sick.
Yet, it was during an encounter with those who were hungry that the trajectory of his life changed. And because of it, so too would the lives of numerous others. Let me explain.
After volunteering in a soup kitchen for several months, Joe began to recognize the individuals coming through his line. He became so familiar with those he was serving that he knew what they liked to eat, what they didn’t care for, and was even able to call them by their first name.
But Joe’s inflection point came when he looked up from a large tub of soup he was serving, looked past the gentleman in front of him, and noticed the length of the line stacked behind him. He understood he and his fellow volunteers were doing a tremendous job feeding the people in line, but they were doing nothing to actually shorten the line.
This recognition set Joe on a journey to learn more about who these individuals in line really were, what lead them to this point, and what might liberate them to not only receive a meal, but step out of the line and back into their lives.
Hot Chicken Takeover Provides Opportunities to Those in Need of Supportive Employment
Through conversations with the individuals in line, Joe learned that many of them longed for work, but due to a lack of clean clothes and steady transportation, along with past mistakes they had made, these individuals simply weren’t able to secure employment. He began to work through a business model that would seek to hire individuals who had been incarcerated, homeless, or simply beat down by life. The model would provide them a chance at supportive training, an actual job and an opportunity at a living wage.
The business he created was Hot Chicken Takeover.
Hot Chicken Takeover began with Joe and a few of these new friends cooking chicken on the weekends and serving from a parking lot until the food was gone. They took the proceeds, invested in a few more individuals longing for a supportive work environment, more chicken to cook, and an actual restaurant to serve guests.
By serving great chicken, with a remarkably loyal, passionate and mission-driven staff, Hot Chicken Takeover has grown from a weekend parking lot chicken stand to three full-service family restaurants in Columbus, OH, with a desire to take their model national. Hot Chicken Takeover is growing because the food is delicious and served in an uncommonly welcoming atmosphere.
But the secret ingredient in this business is actually their people.
The restaurants provide jobs to individuals who needed a fair chance to work. They support their new team members with financial stability, opportunities for personal growth, actual chances for professional development, and an array of benefits including flexible schedules, counseling, and even cash advances with no interest. And in an industry with high turnover, HCT prides itself on the fact that they retain their talent 250% as successfully than the industry average.
What Joe DeLoss’ Example Means in Our Own Lives
The inflection point in Joe’s life occurred when he finally recognized that while the work he was doing in the soup kitchen mattered, it wasn’t actually shortening the line.
My friends, as you look around your community, within your home, and in your personal life, where are the lines forming?
As inspired leaders, we are called to not simply observe, but to actively participate; to not merely sympathize, but to lovingly empathize; and to not simply serve, but to boldly, passionately solve.
Lines packed with dysfunction, brokenness, and tragedy wrap around all of our lives. We see them within our families, locally and globally.
But with a heart like Joe’s we can strive together to not only serve those waiting in the lines, but to actively seek to shorten them.