Florida Foodie: Andrew Scala turns pop-up success into brick-and-mortar business

JAM Hot Chicken is nesting in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A long-time food obsession became a business for Andrew Scala during the pandemic and now he’s getting ready to take that business to the next level.

Scala is the owner of JAM Hot Chicken. The idea for JAM came from a trip to Los Angeles. Scala’s brother brought him to Howlin’ Rays, where he tried hot chicken for the first time.

“It changed my life — the first time I had it,” Scala said. “I recently just took a trip to Nashville, actually just to eat hot chicken again. And it’s just one of those things where it just keeps you coming back.”


After that trip to LA, Scala began his attempts to recreate the dish.

“It was just kind of like a hobby — like it was something that we cooked for friends and family, didn’t take (it) too seriously,” Scala said. “I was working at the Golf Channel in the middle of all that — doing something completely different. Then I started working at a restaurant, Pizza Bruno here in Orlando. That’s what kind of started my passion for really working in the back of the house, working with the team, working on the line.”

Like many people in the service industry, Scala found himself out of work when the pandemic hit. He had done one pop-up with JAM in 2019 and decided to try to make a go of the business while he was out of work.

“(I) started doing curbside pickup straight from Instagram from my home — taking orders via direct message, kind of created like time slots. Did that for about like four or five times — like, for like four weeks consecutively — And then we did our second official pop-up at Whippoorwill.”

About a year later, later Scala signed a lease for a location in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square.

“When we saw it, I fell in love with it,” Scala said. “It just kind of it just made sense. The timing was right. Got a great deal on the space and I just thought ‘Why not now?’”

Right now, the opening date for the brick-and-mortar location is still to be determined, but Scala said he wants to open before the end of fall.

He said he is most looking forward to seeing the “excitement on people’s faces.”

“The excitement and the love that I got from it the first time — like the experience I had was just so memorable and so meaningful for me,” Scala said. “So I want to create that for anyone and everyone else — whether you are super into like fried chicken or hot chicken, whatever, or not. I want to just make your experience as enjoyable as possible and I’m really looking forward to that challenge.”

In the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Scala talks more about building his business and getting ready to open up to customers. He also shares what goes into making a hot chicken sandwich and the spice levels people can expect to try.

Please follow our Florida Foodie hosts on social media. You can find Candace Campos on Twitter and Facebook. Lisa Bell is also on Facebook and Twitter and you can check out her children’s books, “Norman the Watchful Gnome.”

Florida Foodie is a bi-weekly podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impact that has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere. Find new episodes on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.