TAMPA, Fla. — The owner of King of the Coop said he wants to give back to the community that gave so much to his restaurant throughout the pandemic.
"Everybody has supported us through this craziness. And, we just want to shed a little joy and we feel we can do that through fried chicken," Dodd said.
Every Christmas Eve, Dodd says his family eats fried chicken. A tradition that started when his grandfather returned home from the Vietnam War.
"All through my life Christmas Eve has been fried chicken," Dodd said. "Just show up, 250 free boxes."
ABC Action News first profiled Dodd in August for The Rebound Tampa Bay. Dodd was working to set up his own delivery food delivery service, but, it ended up hitting a few snags.
"It’s really expensive," Dodd said. "The reason we had to pause doing our own deliveries is because of the cost, insurance cost. A lot of insurance companies are not writing, hired not owned, which is the insurance we would need because we are not going to have our own vehicles."
Dodd has an outdoor patio for customers to order and dine outside. But, most of his business model is based on to-go and delivery. One area he worried about was whether food delivered through a service would make it to the customer hot and crisp.
Dodd said you never know how long it will take for your food to get dropped off at your door using a service like Uber Eats.
"How do we make this stay crispy? Make it better? But, not lose what we do and so we developed a recipe where we removed the flour, the gluten, from our recipe. I'm very proud of it, it’s awesome," he said.
Die hard fried chicken fanatics might cringe and Dodd knows that.
"Very sacrilegious to not have flour in fried chicken and that was one of the big things for me because I still want people to say 'man this is really good fried chicken' and the recipe we have people say, 'we still have really good fried chicken,'" Dodd said.
Dodd says he is focused on keeping customers happy day in, and day out.
"We are always looking for a different way to be innovative," Dodd said. "The gluten friendly chicken is not the last thing we’ll figure out how to make that better. Everything that we do is knowing that tomorrow all of this could be gone everything we do here at the coop we never take for
granted because all it takes is one time and then it’s done."
On Christmas Eve, Dodd will have a lemonade stand set up outside the store. All of the donations from the lemonade stand will go to TRIBE Seminole Heights.
TRIBE is a neighborhood non-profit that offers low-cost activities and educational programs for kids.