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Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Derrick Hayes ventured into the food industry by chance. The entrepreneur spent much of his upbringing in the kitchen with his grandfather where he garnered his culinary knowledge by assisting with Sunday dinners and crafting flavorful dishes through the mixture of seasonings and spices. After facing personal hardships, Derrick was given a second chance that inspired him to change the trajectory of his life. Derrick relocated to Atlanta where the cheesesteaks didn’t quite meet his standards of the West Philly staple.


Inspired to bring his West Philly roots to the Peach state, Derrick launched Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks – named for his late father. The original location – which was housed in a 700-square-foot gas station in Dunwoody and called Dave’s Philly Water Ice – rose to fame when Philadelphia native and popular actress Eve visited the location for a taste of home while filming in Atlanta – and the rest is history. Today, Hayes oversees the brand consisting of downtown Atlanta and Doraville, Ga locations, Forest Park, Ga, Lawrenceville, Ga, and multiple outposts in Atlanta’s famed Mercedes-Benz Stadium and a food truck. 

In addition to his culinary presence,  Hayes stays involved with the community through The David and Derrick Hayes Foundation – a foundation honoring his father in support of early detection and cancer research, and the David & Derrick Hayes College Fund which provides quarterly funding to deserving students with a 3.0 GPA or higher. He also works alongside his wife and Slutty Vegan restaurateur Pinky Cole in executing Square 1: The Liife Experience – a venture offering a suite of mental, physical and financial wellness support to the Black community. A self-made entrepreneur, restaurateur and philanthropist, Derrick has been nationally recognized by Forbes, Good Morning America, Black Enterprise, RevoltTV, People Magazine, Red Table Talk and many more. In 2021 he was named to the Forbes Next 1000 list, and even graced the cover of Essence Magazine in 2022.


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