July 18, 2018

Joella’s Hot Chicken is coming to Broad Ripple

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Also look for a hot chicken food truck and another location in Bloomington

Nashville hot chicken swept the country like, well, wildfire in 2016, and although the fad seems to have faded, Indy’s love for fried chicken so spicy it Kim Kardashians our lips appears here to stay.

Joella’s Hot Chicken opens its second Indianapolis location this fall in Broad Ripple, and it will be twice as big as the city’s first Joella’s.

The 163-seat Broad Ripple Joella’s, slated for the former Applebee’s at 1072 Broad Ripple Ave., includes a 20-seat patio and a bar serving beer and maybe wine, Schulte Restaurant Group Regional vice president of operations Christina Happel said.

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Another Joella’s is coming to downtown Bloomington this year, and the company has a food truck in the works that will hit large events like music festivals and private events such as weddings, Happel said.

Schulte in November purchased the Joella’s brand and has made a few menu changes. Potato salad and black-eyed pea salad are gone, replaced with collard greens and mashed red potatoes. The chicken recipe is the same, Happle said.

Hot chicken, born in Nashville, Tenn., is fried chicken dipped in spicy oil. At Joella’s, cooks lay on three levels of heat: in the brine, breader and six sauces from mild to the insane Grim Reaper pepper blend. Spiked honey is available to drizzle on the chicken.

Joella’s Indy debut Jan. 26, 2017, at 4715 E. 96th St., drew long lines. Cooks fried so much bird the first weekend it was open that the electrical system went wonky one day, causing a two-hour delay. Folks didn’t fret. They came right back when systems were go again.

Tony Palombino launched Joella’s Hot Chicken, based in Louisville, Ky., in fall 2015, and had four stores running within a year. Joella’s sixth location opens this month in Cincinnati. With Broad Ripple and Bloomington, Schulte will operate eight Joella’s locations. Business is so good that the company is looking to expand throughout the Midwest, Happel said. Are more Indianapolis-area Joella’s restaurants coming?

“The only store we can disclose right now is south of Indianapolis in Bloomington,” she said.

In the 1970s, Palombino’s parents ran a fried chicken restaurant in Louisville. The chicken was made daily by two long-time, beloved employees, Joe and Ms. Ella. Palombino combined their names into Joella’s.

Follow IndyStar food writer Liz Biro on Twitter: @lizbiro, Instagram: @lizbiro, and on Facebook. Call her at (317) 444-6264.

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