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Hot Cluckers flies in just before year’s end

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Days before 2018 closed, Hot Cluckers, a Nashville-style fried chicken and catfish restaurant, is open in the Queen City, as co-owner Michael Felts plans no fewer than four other dining options in southwest Missouri for 2019.

A second Hot Cluckers is set to open in Branson before the summer, Felts said, with a third location being planned in the St. Louis area. The fried chicken establishments are in addition to Taco Habitat LLC and Bourbon and Beale LLC – ventures previously announced by Felts that he said all have been delayed from 2018. He said all the restaurants are expected to open in the new year.

Hot Cluckers, which is registered as Hot Clucker’s LLC with the Missouri secretary of state, opened Dec. 22 in Allan Center at 1450 E. Sunshine St., in the former home of The Big Slice LLC. Big Slice moved two doors down in the center.

The announcement about the fried chicken eatery was made via the restaurant’s Facebook page in June. But Felts, who co-owns the business with fiancee Jennifer Obert, said permitting delays from the city of Springfield contributed to the restaurant not opening until December.

Once he received permits in October for Hot Cluckers, Felts said renovation of the former Big Slice shop commenced, which included new electrical, plumbing and lighting in addition to a rebuilt kitchen and purchase of a walk-in cooler. Startup costs were estimated around $250,000, he said.

The restaurant is on a five-year lease with two renewal options with Chuck Bailey of CLB Legacy Holdings, Felts said. He declined to disclose the rate.

Felts also cited a delay in approval for building permits as a holdup in the start of construction for Bourbon and Beale, a Cajun and barbecue restaurant planned at 2639 S. Glenstone Ave. Construction for the restaurant, in the former Newk’s Eatery, began in late November.

“We had to wait for the building permits before we could do anything,” he said, noting the goal is for Bourbon and Beale to be open by late February or early March. “We’re really shooting to be open before Mardi Gras.”

Two locations for Taco Habitat were previously announced – one at Glenstone Marketplace, 3333 S. Glenstone Ave., and in Branson at 600 W. Main St. Both taco shops feature a modular construction involving shipping containers. Constructed and designed by Boxman Studios in North Carolina, both restaurants have been completed, Felts said, adding they are unable to be shipped at this time for different reasons. He previously planned to have both eateries open in August, according to Springfield Business Journal archives.

Felts said a ground lease has to be completed for the Springfield Taco Habitat, with the U.S. Small Business Administration involved in financing. Because of the current federal government shutdown, he said that process is being delayed. If not for that delay, he said the restaurant could be open within 60 days.

With the Branson location, Felts said he is attempting to purchase an adjacent property to help resolve an issue with the position of the drive-thru for the restaurant. He said he is still optimistic to have the eatery opened by the summer.

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Warren Gene Campbell

I looked with anticipation for this Hot Cluckers. My wife and I went last night. What a disappointment!! My wife's chicken tenders were just awful and she order the low spice and they were way to hot to enjoy. (She likes hot peppers) and the tenders I had were juicy but tastless coating did not help. What was more disturbing was the price. 2 orders, drinks almost $25. I could eat a lot of chicken at KFC for that. There are probably people who can afford this place but not on my retiree's income. We get two great dinners at Perkins for that $25 expenditure. One other thing...I personally do not like pickles and the fries and my tenders tasted like they had been fried in the same grease as the fried pickles.

Monday, December 31, 2018
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