Joella’s Hot Chicken Opens on the Carmel-Westfield Border
Photography Provided by Amy Payne and Joella’s Hot Chicken
Joella’s Hot Chicken, founded in 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky, just celebrated its fifth anniversary. Through the years, the company’s leaders have stayed true to the roots of the menu and have not made changes to their delicious chicken meals, sandwiches, dipping sauces, southern sides and drinks.
“We believe in good, quality home-style cooking, and everyone has responded to that,” says Katie Wollrich, chief marketing officer for Joella’s Hot Chicken.
The response has been so good, in fact, that Joella’s Hot Chicken has expanded to new cities each year with stores in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida and Georgia. This is their fourth consecutive year opening a store in the Hoosier state, and the company’s seventeenth location just opened on the Carmel-Westfield border. The 4,116-square-foot restaurant features both indoor and outdoor dining, with seating for up to 130 guests.
“That market is so excited about us coming here,” Wollrich says. “Every day on social media, people have been asking when Westfield was going to open.”
Popular menu items include all-natural jumbo tenders flavored with six unique heat levels – Traditional Southern, Spiked Honey, Ella’s Fav, Tweener, Hot, and Fire-in Da-Hole (so hot you must sign a waiver – seriously).
“Hot chicken isn’t just about the heat, it’s about the flavor,” Wollrich says. “Our six unique heat levels match user preferences without sacrificing flavor.”
If a guest doesn’t care for heat, they can opt for the Southern style. Wollrich says some people get a little nervous about hot chicken, especially if they haven’t had it before. That’s precisely why the six heating options are helpful.
“If you don’t want heat, come in and get the best fried chicken you’ve ever had,” Wollrich says. “If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, I recommend Ella’s Fav. It’s the best place to start because you get sweet plus a little bit of that heat flavor that doesn’t linger too long. People say they feel the heat but that it’s gone by the next bite.”
The option to customize meals is what sets Joella’s Hot Chicken apart from many other restaurants.
“It’s nice to be able to have your go-to meal, but customize it to make it a little bit different depending on the mood you’re in that day,” says Wollrich, who compares the customizable menu to a barbecue experience and the way the flavor changes depending on what type is selected. “People taste our chicken and crave it. It’s hard to go back to regular fried chicken once you’ve had all this flavor added to it.”
The menu also includes made-from-scratch, daily sides like the award-winning Mac & Cheese that includes four kinds of cheese, and is topped with herb parmesan.
“Whether you’re a kid or an adult, this side is a must-try,” says Wollrich, who also recommends the Parmesan Garlic Fries. “They are thin, crispy and flavorful – my personal favorite.”
Other sides include Sweet Vinegar Slaw, Green Beans and Bacon, Red Skinned Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Collard Greens with Bacon, and a popular Kale Crunch Salad that comes with currants, toasted almonds, parmesan cheese and lemon zest vinaigrette dressing.
According to Wollrich, the name Joella represents the comfortable feeling that comes when sitting down to a family dinner at home and eating made-from-scratch, home-cooked meals filled with love.
“Miss Joella is the embodiment of the typical Southern woman who grew up eating her momma’s fried chicken every Sunday, and she likes to add a little spice to everything she does,” says Wollrich, who calls Miss Joella the “poster child for southern hospitality and doing the right thing.”
Part of that dedication to doing the right thing is giving back to community. Joella’s Hot Chicken participates in the Dine to Donate program and gives 10% of store proceeds to schools and other organizations on a designated day.
“Joella’s Hot Chicken is a brand that is devoted to passion, integrity, accountability, hospitality and generosity,” Wollrich says. “We understand that in order to fulfill this mission, we must be good stewards of our communities. Partnering with schools is something that is very important to us, and we look forward to doing more of that with the community in the future.”
The company also loves on children by letting kids eat free after 4 p.m. every Tuesday with the purchase of any adult meal. In addition, menu items can be customized to accommodate dietary restrictions and allergies, including nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and vegan requests.
Fortunately, Joella’s Hot Chicken had a delivery system in place prior to the coronavirus pandemic, so the company has been able to utilize that service to safely deliver food directly to guests’ houses. Joella’s offers online ordering and pickup, and during warmer months they have patio seating. All team members wear masks and gloves. In addition, Joella’s is keeping the restaurant’s capacity limited in accordance with the state’s current regulations, and has created proper signage and markings on the floor so guests can comply with social distancing.
“We are keeping everything as safe as possible, not only for guests but also for our team members,” Wollrich says. “Sometimes comfort food is really what people need during these times. We’re happy we’ve been able to stay open and also open new stores.”
Joella’s Hot Chicken is located at 2554 East 146th Street in Cool Creek Commons, on the Carmel-Westfield border. For more information, call 317-689-1118. Visit joellas.com for a menu, catering details, a shop, a page for online ordering and more.