CNBC just published an article naming us the 4th fastest growing restaurant chain in the country. The story featured restaurant chains bucking sales trends and delivering explosive growth across the country. Technomic crunched the numbers and served up the fastest-growing chains in national sales--we’re proud to be part of such a remarkable group.
The timing of the accolades from CNBC couldn’t be better. We just opened our 500th restaurant. This is a milestone in our company history that has long been planned and talked about. Many critics thought we had our sights set too high but we always knew we would reach this goal. I think it was Walt Disney who said, “It’s kind of fun doing the impossible.” We agree with Walt.
Taking Texas barbecue across the country seemed impossible when we first began franchising in 1994. The story of our first franchised location is interesting in that it’s not something we planned. Back in those days, we were happy being the best barbecue in the Dallas area. My dad still worked the block every day and enjoyed playing to the crowd with the lunch regulars. My dad had a regular customer named Frank Smith who loved our concept. He wanted a franchise but my dad kept saying no. Frank Smith was very persuasive and eventually we sold him a store.
Our first location outside of Texas was in Colorado. Again naysayers said Texas barbecue wouldn’t find an audience outside of the Lone Star state. I guess they were wrong again because growth just took off. It seems people around the country liked the authentic slow smoked barbecue we had to offer. Taking Texas barbecue across the country is no easy feat. For many people, they are used to a regional style of barbecue like Kansas City or the Carolinas. But, there was room in their hearts and stomachs for Dickey’s Barbecue. By 2010 we were officially the nation’s largest barbecue joint –something our pundits said could never be done.
When Henry Ford decided to produce his famous V-8 motor, he chose to build an engine with the entire eight cylinders cast in one block and instructed his engineers to produce a design for the engine. The design was placed on paper, but the engineers all agreed it was simply impossible to cast an eight cylinder engine block in one piece. Ford replied “Produce it anyway.” That’s what we have done.
It wasn’t always an easy path. We hit many roadblocks along the journey but never gave up. My family and our team had a vision for expansion that included aggressive growth along with continual innovation and improvement. With focus and grit, we pushed through it all to achieve “The impossible.”
I’ve never bought into the fact that any goal is unachievable. General George S. Patton once said “By perseverance, study, and eternal desire, any man can become great.” At Dickey’s we don’t set goals, we make commitments and we persevere. We celebrated hitting this commitment in the office by telling stories of people who said it couldn’t be done. We laughed, we toasted our champagne and then we got back to work. Why? Because, we’re not stopping -- we’re not even slowing down.