Left to Right: Eric Scroggins, Shelbey Saye, Dan King, Jason Myers and Austin Norton

 

GODFREY, IL – Turning up the heat on local dining, Heaterz Sports Tap says it is on a mission to become “the world champion of hot chicken.” It is that fire, that entrepreneurial passion, which helped make the Alton location of this restaurant chain the choice as the July 2024 RiverBend Growth Association Small Business of the Month award honoree.

“Our business has undergone significant changes in the last three years,” noted Owner Dan King. “We have expanded our staff by more than 350 percent, creating over 65 jobs, both part-time and full-time. Our revenue has increased by over four times in just three years.”

The local location, known for decades as Alton Sports Tap, is at 3812 College Avenue. King also has expanded the Heaterz brand to Kirkwood, Mo. and Normal, Ill. Heaterz also offers food truck services for any event, anywhere within one hour from their three locations.

“To accommodate our growth, we have adjusted our staffing levels, especially at Sports Tap in both the back and front of the house. Some shifts now have triple the number of servers compared to before,” King shared further. “We have also added new volleyball courts while receiving local recognition awards for best wings, overall restaurant, sports bar, lunch spot, and more.”

Heaterz Sports Tap has banquet space available to host events such as birthday parties, anniversary and graduation celebrations, organizational fundraiser events, corporate meetings and gatherings, as well as many other types of activities. Additionally, Heaterz offers catering to a variety of settings, including family, sporting, office and school events as well as weddings and other formal occasions.

King, a Riverbend native, has an established background in healthcare leadership and a self-proclaimed passion for entrepreneurship. “I have a bachelor’s degree in management and nursing at WKU (Western Kentucky University), a master’s in health administration, and a doctorate in management from Webster University. All of this helps guide me in providing exceptional care and quality to our guests, staff and vendors. Our mission is to become the world champion of hot chicken while upholding our values and code of ethics,” King added.

The company has coined its operational code of ethics with an appropriately chosen acronym: “FIRE.” King explained: “F is for Ferocious; we are extreme and determined and believe in 360-degree wins. I is for Infallible; our reliance is on systems and processes, leaving no room for failure. R is for Righteous; we do the right thing. And E is for Earth Shaking; loud and proud – you’ll know when we have arrived.”

Heaterz Sports Tap has seized the greatest opportunities in its business by adapting to the post-Covid restaurant landscape. The venue’s focus is on providing quality food quickly; also utilizing online ordering and third-party delivery services. “Consistency and efficiency are key,” said King, “and we leverage technology to enhance our sales and ensure consistent cooking of our chicken.

Additionally, Heaterz has successfully deployed its food truck service to reach audiences across Illinois and the St. Louis area, further driving traffic to their brick-and-mortar locations. King shared that they are looking to expand with a drive-thru concept in the near future.

“We have faced various challenges in our business, such as fluctuating chicken, product shortages, staffing shortages, and overall inflation. Despite these obstacles, we have maintained our adaptability and willingness to adjust in all areas except for the quality of our product. Rest assured; the quality of our chicken will never be compromised,” he pointed out.

So, just what is it that makes Heaterz unique? King’s response to this question was this: “Our differentiation lies in offering unique Nashville-style chicken, delicious street corn, and other top-rated menu items. Our bold and infectious brand has fueled our rapid growth, with plans to have five restaurants and three food trucks by the end of 2024. We prioritize staff development, offering opportunities for advancement, diverse skills, and competitive pay including tips.”

In his three years of business, King has increased his number of employees from a starting point of 24 to nearly 100 today. To help sustain and grow its workforce, Heaterz provides opportunities for staff to receive certified food manager training and they also have regular discussions about career advancement. They further host an internal management program and have plans to collaborate with universities, colleges, and high schools to offer internships in food service, management, and entrepreneurship.

Community service is also a big part of the values at Heaterz’ core. “Our goal is to make every community stronger in which we are fortunate to operate within,” said King. For example, Heaterz has supported 5As by hosting their food truck at the organization’s fundraising golf tournament as well as their “Getting Pumped for Our Furry Friends” event.

Other organizations, groups and establishments benefiting from Heaterz’ commitment to the Riverbend have included local high schools, overnight warming locations, area first responders, the Alton Renegades, the community of Ferguson, Mo., various cancer and special needs charities, local youth sports teams, and the local refinery. They also recently supported the COC Golf Tournament by donating over 700 meals.

For more information about Heaterz Sports Tap and all it has to offer, call (618) 465-2539 or stop in for a visit. You can also visit online at https://altonsportstap.com, find them on Facebook, or send an email to Shelbey Saye, shelbey@heaterzchicken.com.

The RiverBend Growth Association is the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development organization for the 11 communities known as the Riverbend. For more information about the Growth Association, visit www.growthassociation.com or call (618) 467-2280.

RBGA’s Small Business of the Month Committee recognizes a different member business each month for its outstanding efforts and leadership in the community. Committee members include Brenda Eardley, Vicki Hake, Vickie Hopkins, Amy Roady, Martha Schultz, and Amy Smith.

To learn more about membership in the RiverBend Growth Association and the Small Business of the Month recognition, visit the RBGA website or call their Godfrey office.