Hot Chicken is Good for the Soul: Business as Spiritual Nourishment with Joe DeLoss

Joe DeLoss is a social entrepreneur who’s focused on building transformational brands that leave a positive thumbprint on the planet. The owner and head fryer of Hot Chicken Takeover, Joe has been called “the best marketer in Columbus”. 

He showed his entrepreneurial spirit from a young age, where he launched numerous, eccentric business ventures ranging from selling marked-up drinks to construction workers to driving people around in their own cars after they lost their licenses. 

Hot Chicken Takeover is his biggest success story to date. Starting out as a humble pop-up, Joe generated such incredible demand backed by positive word of mouth that the Kickstarter he launched to fund the purchase of a food truck raised over $63,000. Now, they have six restaurant locations. 

A successful business is one thing, but Joe calls himself a social entrepreneur for a reason. Hot Chicken is a fair chance employer that provides employment opportunities to those who are often overlooked, be it due to criminal histories or just a long gap in their employment history. At one point, over 70% of their workforce was made up of people who had been formerly incarcerated or affected by homelessness. 

He states that the company employs anyone with “an orientation towards personal growth”, something that’s reflected in the way he’s lived his life. On today’s episode of Gravity, we get into where that drive stems from and how Joe is driven to take action both for himself and for the world. 

Joe is a spiritual person and takes us through his philosophies, from finding and fanning the flames of spirit in others to filling up our cups so much that they overflow into those of the people around us. It’s an optimistic and in-depth conversation that I know you’ll be inspired by.


What Brett asks:

  • [01:45] Tell me about your childhood.
  • [07:20] What was it like dealing with hardship as a child?
  • [12:20] Can you elaborate on the idea that you adopted a persona each time you joined a new school?
  • [20:30] What drove you to be an entrepreneur at such a young age?
  • [21:50] Did your entrepreneurial spirit continue into high school?
  • [24:45] Did you see yourself being an entrepreneur after high school?
  • [27:00] How did you shape an identity coming out of school?
  • [35:00] How did pursuing coolness help or hurt you?
  • [40:40] What led you to start Hot Chicken Takeover?
  • [46:00] How does Hot Chicken Takeover fit into your life, spiritually?

Lessons for intentional living:

  • To one extent or another, people adopt metaphorical masks and personas. Some of us do this consciously and others do it without thinking, but we all do it. Joe saw this quality in himself and took charge of it, shaping each new persona he was going to take on when starting new schools – and thus being given a blank social slate – as a kid. When you start to act in ways you wish you’d behaved, these behaviors become more comfortable. Once they’re second nature, they go from being a persona to just being a more true version of ourselves.
  • Joe is driven by a desire to bring about social change and improvement in a proactive way. So many of us want to better the world but that rarely extends beyond talking – or just thinking – about it. The best way to achieve something is by doing. Hot Chicken Takeover is a perfect example of this. Joe saw the way many people are unfairly dismissed when it comes to employment as a result of a mistake in their past or circumstances beyond their control and he found a way to tackle it directly. Now, he employs those people himself and gets them back into the workforce. 
  • Another of Joe’s philosophies is a desire to cultivate the positives within others. It’s an age-old saying for a reason: we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. A person will always have depth and value beyond what you’re able to ascertain on the surface and it can only be a good thing – for them and for you – to bring those positives out.