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'Something different': Dave's Hot Chicken opens in Billings, brings new flavors to Montana

Dave's Hot Chicken opens in Billings
Posted at 4:33 PM, Dec 02, 2023

BILLINGS — Saturday was the opening day for a new chicken joint in the Magic City. Dave’s Hot Chicken opened shop in the old Popeyes location on Shiloh Crossing Boulevard.

This happened at a time when fast food restaurants across town—and the country—are shutting down.

"I think it will be good for Billings because it’s something different," said Deana Serna, a customer, on Saturday. “Something exciting, unique."

Deana Serna
Deana Serna

Hardee’s, Burger King, and Popeyes—these are just a few of the fast food restaurants we’ve seen shut down in Billings recently. But with all of the closures comes new beginnings.

“We don’t really have much (in terms of restaurants),” said Rowan Hackett, a customer, on Friday. "This is pretty cool."

Dave’s Hot Chicken is officially open, located at 1020 Shiloh Crossing Blvd., Unit 1, in Billings. It's owned and operated by three friends: Ben Quinlan and brothers Wyatt and Luke Prime.

“Dave’s stands out. I mean, just walking in here, you can tell it’s a totally different vibe than anything out there," Quinlan said on Saturday. “It’s a great concept. It’s lively and it’s fun. It’s just the best chicken you’re going to have. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever tried before."

Ben Quinlan
Ben Quinlan

The young entrepreneurs are all in their 20s. Ben and Wyatt are 24 and Luke is 27.

Ben’s father is a franchise owner in Massachusetts and got wind of the lack of chicken options in the Treasure State.

“His stores have been crushing it lately and he wanted to expand to Montana. Asked myself and my two other partners, Wyatt Prime and Luke Prime, to jump on board. So we literally quit our jobs and jumped right in,” Quinlan said. “This is just a great market for it. The people here are great, the city is booming. There are tons of people and there’s not a ton of chicken around. There’s Chick-fil-A here but we wanted to bring a new concept here that people have never had before."

Together, they opened the first Dave’s Hot Chicken in Montana, telling MTN News they have what it takes to last.

Grand opening at Dave's Hot Chicken
Grand opening at Dave's Hot Chicken

"The biggest thing is just retention of employees. So here at Dave’s Hot, we like to treat our employees better, we pay them better, and we train them better. Overall just have that great connection with them so they can stick with us," Quinlan said. "We’re also a new establishment here in Montana. We’re going to grow out to Bozeman, Missoula, Helena, and hopefully other locations. So there’s great opportunity here for you. We’ll be looking for GMs (general managers), AGMs (assistant general managers), and shift leaders. We’re going to build a team around us. It’s going to be great and we’re going to take it to the top."

That's something many other fast-food chains have not yet figured out.

In May, Burger King announced it would close up to 400 restaurants this year. In Billings, that was seen firsthand.

"We are not alone in this problem. It really started with COVID, and the labor market just changed,” Danny Rehberg told MTN in May.

Rehberg and his wife Jan owned six fast-food restaurants across the state with a few in Billings. But over the past two years, all were either closed or sold.

Closed sign at Popeyes
Closed sign at Popeyes

"Timing is everything and for us, our timing was bad," Jan said in May.

But with change comes new opportunity—something Dave’s Hot Chicken jumped on.

Saturday was the store’s grand opening and it drew in quite a crowd.

Allen Flint drove from Bozeman to check it out.

“I just saw it all over TikTok and stuff like that. I’m like, it looks really appetizing,” Flint said on Saturday. "I'm excited!"

Allen Flint
Allen Flint

Excited to try a new option in the Magic City at a time when well-known spots are fading out.

To learn more about Dave's Hot Chicken, click here.

To read MTN's original report on the Rehberg's closing their restaurants, click here.

Dave's Hot Chicken opens in Billings
Dave's Hot Chicken opens in Billings