I swear, there comes a day every year when you wake up and suddenly it…
Raising Cane fans might end up at Columbus’ newest fried chicken restaurant, Just Chicken.
D’Andre Martin, owner and founder of the restaurant, said he has several businesses, including co-ownership of popular restaurant The Pit BBQ Grille with Mike Johnson and former Ohio State football players Chimdi Chekwa and Bryant Browning. Martin said opening a restaurant with the concept of Just Chicken has always been his plan.
“I always wanted to do something a little different, something simpler that was still really good,” Martin said. “I’ve always thought, ‘What’s the next best thing I can do,’ and chicken has always been one of my best restaurant ideas.”
Martin, who attended Ohio State in 2007, said his time at college helped prepare him for the business world. He said he learned a lot about the community and the city of Columbus as a whole.
“Coming from Cleveland, it was a major experience in dealing with different people and learning,” he said. “Being in Columbus with all these different restaurants kind of inspired me. I was told that if you can do it in Columbus as a restaurant, then you can do it anywhere.
Martin said Just Chicken will offer fresh chicken and fries, as well as homemade coleslaw and homemade sauces.
“[Customers] can expect excellent, fresh and quality food. I promise they won’t be disappointed,” Martin said. “The restaurant I would compare myself to is Cane’s, but with a different twist. So if you like Cane’s, you’ll like us.”
With multiple business ventures, Martin said it can be difficult to balance everything else in her life. He said he thanks his wife, A’Leah Martin, and two children for letting him get away from the business world via family game nights and date nights every Thursday.
“My wife is also an entrepreneur, so she understands,” he said. “We try to take time for each other and for our children. Having a good support system is key, and balancing it is key.
A’Leah Martin, 2010 Ohio State alumnus and clothing store owner Jane’s beauty clothessaid it’s her husband working long days can be hard, but she and their children try to support him in any way they can.
“One way is to understand each other and make time for each other,” she said. “He works countless hours, but we understand that because it’s something he’s really passionate about. We let him know we’re there for him every step of the way.
A’Leah Martin said she loved the idea of Just Chicken when her husband first mentioned it and is happy to see him take advantage of the opportunity.
“He’s been doing this cooking thing for a really long time, so when the opportunity came up, he thought it would be drugs, and I agreed,” she said.
When it comes to owning and operating her own restaurant, A’Leah Martin said she wants her husband to remember all the little things that come with it.
“Some important things I would tell him is to always remember why he started,” she said. “Despite the ups and downs, he must stay true to his heart, which is his love for food and his love for building community.”
D’André Martin said he is thrilled to continue pursuing his passion in the restaurant industry and hopes to continue changing lives with his business.
“My greatest joy is to have provided jobs and careers to people who have changed their lives, and that is really important to me,” he said.
Just Chicken is set to open at the East Market at 1600 Oak St. in May, but D’Andre Martin said a specific opening day has yet to be decided. However, as opening day approaches, more information will become available on the Eastern Market. website.