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Newest Millington eatery looks to live up to name Hot Box

Hot Box owners Caitlin Standridge and Jeremy Payne organize a business' take-out order last week. The Hot Box has been open near the Millington Kroger for a month.

Hot Box owners Caitlin Standridge and Jeremy Payne organize a business’ take-out order last week. The Hot Box has been open near the Millington Kroger for a month.

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

When Jeremy Payne moved to the Millington area from Milwaukee two years ago, he wanted to put his college marketing experience to use.

While getting accustomed to traditional Southern dining like wings, fried fish and loaded burgers, Payne started to feed off the knowledge of his girlfriend Caitlin Standridge. The Brighton resident shared her seven years of restaurant experience with Payne sparking an idea.

“I saw that she had managerial experience,” Payne said. “She knew how to run a restaurant. She bascially ran the restaurant by herself. I told her, ‘With your mind and my mind, we can put this together. We can open a restaurant.’ I just kept pushing that.”

On March 8, Payne’s drive along with Standridge expertise and connections helped them open the Hot Box Restaurant & Grill at 8025 Highway 51 North in Millington in the Kroger’s shopping center.

In a month, the Hot Box is building a reputation with it’s specials like delivery to local businesses. Also the restaurant features lunch specials, kid’s meals and a Combo Punch Card special at the restaurant.

Payne said the specials are just a part of the marketing of the Hot Box. Standridge said the quaility food will be the biggest attractions of the specials.

That was one of many reasons local businessman Ramzi Zhur invested in the young couple’s dream of opening the Hot Box.

“With Ramzi, I worked at Captain JJ’s on Summer,” Standridge recalled. “He worked at the In and Out Wireless right next to us. Everyday I was talking to him. He would order from us all the time. I built up a real good relationship with him. He just decided, ‘How much does a restaurant make? How do you start one?’ He was ready to invest in something else and told us to go for it.”

Zhur’s investment helped the pair of 25-year-olds create a menu with dozens of items like wings, fish, burgers, grilled items, salads, desserts, appetizers and more. Some of the highlights on the menu are grilled tilapia and shrimp, a double cheeseburger and chicken tenders.

And there are some cool items to choose from on the menu like Greek and Caesar salads, and desserts like peanut butter cookies, banana pudding and cheesecake bites.

“I just wanted to offer a variety to folks,” Payne said. “That way you limit ways to fail. It’s kind of a safety net. If you limit yourself to one thing, it might flop because people in that area might not like that or go for that.”

The flagship item of the Hot Box are the wings like honey hot, honey gold, golden ranch, BBQ, lemon pepper, sweet heat and molten lava. There are party packs ranging from three-piece to 100 pieces.

On the restaurant’s logo designed by Payne’s high school friend from in Wisconsin Leland features a wing, burger and a flame.

“We were just sitting there one day thinking of names,” Standridge recalled. “We pretty much came up with it because it’s a general mix of food. It’s kind of catchy. There’s so much to do with it from designwise, foodwise.

“The logo is great and we’ll actually have a promotion called the Hot Box Deal,” she added. “One is going to be beef. The other one will be chicken. There is a variety of dinners.”

As the Hot Box generates buzz in North Shelby and South Tipton counties, Payne said the restaurant will continue to expand with features like wifi, pool tables, a dart board, lounging area and arcade.

“We’re growing it,” he said. “We’re happy with how it looks now. But we’re not content and it will be soon. We’re actually going to even get a new sign too.”

In his two years of being in the South, Payne said the Millington area feels like home. And he wants to offer products and a place that will make residents feel comfortable.

“With such a strong sense of community here, I want to incorparate the community with the restaurant,” he concluded. “I want to make sure they’re satisfied and we’re satisfied. I want to make sure everyone is happy and everyone has a nice place they can eat and have some other source of entertainment. We want to offer that to everybody.”

The Hot Box is opened from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and on Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. For more information, call 872-3095, e-mail or like them on Facebook at The Hot Box Restaurant & Grill.


2 Responses to “Newest Millington eatery looks to live up to name Hot Box”

  1. rosekane says:

    we came in got the fried catfish dinner and it was great. My only thing don’t get me wrong i am all for teenagers working. But when your working the customer needs your full attention. The food was just great and what everyone else was getting it looked great. But even the couple behind said the same thing. I know it’s a new business and i am happy they are in our community.

  2. jessica says:

    Are they ever going to reopen????? Their food was great!!


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