Josh Collins (BSEH ’97, MS ’99) is the proud owner of Athen’s newest juke-joint style restaurant, Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken. Located at 1120 Baxter Steet, Athen, GA, the restarunt stives to bring together traditional, southern-family recipes with an atmosphere that will attract a diverse crowd.
The UGA Alumni Association’s Strategic Communications intern, Emilie Clarke ’15, had the opportunity to catch up with this outstanding alumnus. Read below to find out more about Josh’s entrpreneurial endeavors.
You recently opened Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken, tell me a little bit about the restaurant. What steps did you take to open your own business? What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Champy’s was founded in Chattanooga in 2009 by a good friend of ours, Seth Champion, who was raised on the Mississippi Delta. Although Champy’s of Athens is the fifth location, which also includes Daphne, Alabaster and Muscle Shoals, AL, we are not a franchise. We refer to ourselves as a “friendchise” between buddies that enjoy great food in a fun atmosphere. The atmosphere is fun for all ages.
My wife, Amy, and I have talked about moving to Athens for the past 10 years and I knew that Athens was a Champy’s explosion waiting to happen. We worked on selling the idea of Athens to Seth for over two years then invested everything we had into opening, including having to go all the way to Mississippi to get a business loan because local banks wouldn’t work with us. We cashed in our 401Ks, are still living in an RV and continue to invest all of the elbow grease we have every day.
Interior of Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken
Where do you see the company in five years?
For the Athens Champy’s, I can see a destination spot that draws customers from all over Georgia and visiting sports rivals, a thriving catering business for everyone that wants good southern food, and a restaurant full of locals that are drawn to our bluesy atmosphere. As for expansion, I definitely see a second location in five years, maybe an hour or two from Athens.
What chefs or types of cuisines are your biggest food influences?
Flavors from the Deep South – Mississippi Delta hot tamales, fresh fried chicken and homemade sides. Our recipes were handed down from Seth Champion’s grandfather over 40 years ago.
How did your time at UGA help you achieve your personal and professional goals? Did you have a favorite professor or class that really stuck with you? Favorite memory from your time at UGA?
My environmental health sciences degree kick-started my corporate career and provided me with 15 years of business experience that I lean on every day to run the restaurant.
I would have to go with two professors, Dr. David MacIntosh and Dean Phil Williams of the Health Science Campus. You didn’t ask, but I couldn’t forget about Ms. Sandra McPeake who was the department’s assistant in the late 1990s. She couldn’t always keep me out of trouble, but she tried her best!
Football Saturdays in Athens are my favorite memory. All of them…
What advice would you give to future graduates or young alumni who aspire to own their own business?
Just do it. No one is going to make it happen, but you.
To learn more about Josh Collins (BSEH ’97, MS ’99) and Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken visit ChampysChicken.com.