Q&A with Renee Roozen, Dickey’s Barbecue president on smaller footprints and chain tweaks.

Dickey’s starts 2017 moving full steam ahead after reaching its 75-year milestone last year. Watch for Dickey’s to stake out territory on the international front this year, plus continue expansion at a steady 12-stores-per-month pace.

Rene-Roozen-HeadshotRenee Roozen President Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc. Dallas www.dickeys.comHere, Dickey’s Barbeque Restaurants Inc.'s President Renee Roozen discusses the intricacies of heading up a family-run company — she became the first non-family member to hold the title in October 2016 — and the overwhelming new initiatives within Dickey’s.

FE&S: What’s it like heading up a third-generation family operation?

RR: I think it’s a great blend. The family continues to remain very involved and I bring a different viewpoint to the business. I learn so much from the family stories and everyone is open to tweaking things a little bit.

FE&S: Describe the layout at Dickey’s with stores now at 1,400 square feet vs. 3,000 square feet in first-generation stores.

RR: The real difference lies in the back of the house, which is primarily a smaller, more efficient footprint. There has been no change to the number of dine-in seating spots.

Kitchens are more compact and we are better utilizing the space, for example, using ceilings to hang shelves. Everything in the back of the house is much smaller and more efficient, right down to the storage area.

On the positive side, it is easier to keep clean and the pit crew — our term for team members — now take fewer steps to produce product.

FE&S: How has the equipment package changed?

RR: We removed the stove and introduced a tabletop induction burner and a taco press, which allows us to bring in some new menu items at a lower pricepoint. And there are no longer fryers in the back of the house.

We added a proprietary wood-pellet-blend smoker, which has a smaller hood, and gives us consistency across all stores.

FE&S: What’s new in the front of the house?

RR: One new feature is glass-front walk-in coolers that showcase the brisket. Customers see it, waiting to be smoked, when they enter the store. You can also see the smoker from the front of the store. It’s amazing how many customers didn’t realize we smoke all of our own meat on-site.

Buffalo-and-Bleu-Taco-2Specialty menu items, such as the buffalo & blue taco offered as a limited-time-only item, broaden Dickey’s barbeque-centric lineup.All stores are now set-up for a very technologically-driven experience. Everyone is wired these days and we accommodate customers with free Wi-Fi and added more plug-in locations at tables. Our new music playlist also appeals to a wider range of customers.

FE&S: Is online ordering a driver?

RR: Everyone lives off their mobile. We are getting into online POS.

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