DICKEY’S Franchise Class Action Lawsuit Filed in CA

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise owners in California have filed a class action lawsuit against Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. alleging Fraud, Violation of the California Investment Law, and Violation of Unfair Competition Laws.

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com) Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise practices continue to come under fire by franchisees who are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Yesterday, California Dickey’s franchisees Amy Meadows, Dawn Toff, Donna Schiano and Alfred Pena, on behalf of themselves and other California franchisees similarly situated, filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court, Northern District of California.

The franchisees are represented by attorneys Vincent Bartolotta, Jr., Karen Frostrom, and Rebecca Blain Morrison of San Diego-based Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire LLP.

For those who have been following the Dickey’s Franchise Complaints we’ve been posting on Unhappy Franchisee, the main allegations will not be new:

  • That Dickey’s downplays the need for experience & provides inadequate training & support
  • That Dickey’s grossly understates the initial investment to prospective franchisees,
  • That Dickey’s makes deceptive earnings claims (“Each store would make at least $800,000 in the first year and it would only go up from there…”)
  • That Dickey’s forces franchisees to overpay its required vendors (who then kick-back “rebates” to Dickey’s corporate)
  • That the Dickey’s Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) contains “material falsities.”

Dickey's franchisee Amy MeadowsAre you familiar with the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise opportunity and the business ethics of its president, Roland Dickey, Jr.?  Please share your opinion – positive or negative – with a comment below.  Or email us in confidence at UnhappyFranchisee[at]

[Image, left:  Dickey’s franchisee Amy Meadows in her Grand Opening interview with the Pleasant Hills Patch.]

Dickey’s Allegations of Franchise Fraud

Plaintiff Amy Meadows purchased a Dickey’s franchise in Pleasant Hill, California.

Plaintiff Dawn Toff purchased a Dickey’s franchise in Hollister, California.

Plaintiff Donna Schiano purchased a Dickey’s franchise in San Ramon.

Plaintiff Alfred Pena purchased a Dickey’s franchise in Tracy, California.

While the entire complaint is posted below, here are their allegations against Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. in regard to the First Cause of Action:  Fraud:




20.    Defendants made the following representations to Plaintiffs:

a.    Conversion of a restaurant space into a Dickey’s, including payment of all opening inventory, permit fees, franchise and training fees, would total approximately $60,000.

b.    Dickey’s was selling franchises in Northern California pursuant to a lawful FDD.

c.    Dickey’s would provide a protected territory.

d.    Dickey’s would provide an on-site evaluation prior to lease execution.

e.    Dickey’s would provide pre-opening training.

f.    Royalties and marketing fees would be based on the “net” sales.

g.    Dickey’s provided a valid basis for estimating anticipated restaurant revenues.

h.    Franchisees could use alternate suppliers so long as they suggested sources that could be objectively evaluated as reliable.

i.    Franchisees could add new menu items so long as they could demonstrate that they were conducive to the Dickey’s image and standards.

j.    Dickey’s operated a national marketing program and conducted promotions.

k.    Dickey’s would provide accountings related to its marketing program.

l.    The franchisees could purchase used equipment.

m.    A senior member of Dickey’s would be present for the restaurant opening.

n.    Dickey’s negotiated competitive prices at group discount rates.

21.    Those representations were false as follows:

a.    The cost of the build-out alone exceeded specific and written representations. This did not include opening inventory, permit fees, franchise fees or training costs.

b.    The FDD contained material falsities.

c.    Dickey’s did not provide a protected territory.

d.    Dickey’s did not provide a pre-opening evaluation of the restaurants.

e.    Dickey’s did not provide pre-opening training. Instead, they made the franchisees travel to Texas to wash dishes in their affiliates’ corporate stores.

f.    Royalties and marketing fees were not calculated based on the net sales. Rather, they were calculated based on gross sales. Had they been calculated based on net sales, no royalties would ever have been due because store was never profitable.

g.    Pre-contract representations created an unreasonable expectation of how much the stores would earn.

h.    The Franchisees repeatedly requested a change in vendors to decrease costs and improve product quality. Each time the new vendor was either superior or equal to the existing vendor but no approval was forthcoming.

i.    Plaintiffs repeatedly requested permission to offer new menu items such as BBQ chicken salad or breakfast items, all of which are offered by other

Dickey’s stores. However, Dickey’s refused each request.

j.    Dickey’s did not offer a marketing program in Northern California. Those dollars were spent in Texas where they provided no benefit to the California restaurants. Dickey’s also did not provide promotions. The franchisees were on their own to come up with their own promotions on a case by case basis.

k.    The franchises never received any marketing fund accountings. Dickey’s required the franchisees to purchase expensive oversized and new equipment.

m.    A senior member of Dickey’s did not attend the store openings.

n.    Dickey’s franchisees were forced to purchase product at over-market prices and were not permitted to source cheaper equivalent quality replacements.

22.    At the time each of the above misrepresentations was made, Defendants knew or should have known of the falsity.

23.    Plaintiffs relied on the representations in deciding to pay the application fee and open a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.

24.    As a result of Defendants’ bad conduct, Plaintiffs suffered injury in an amount to be proven at the time of trial.

25.    Defendants committed the above-described conduct with oppression, fraud, and malice, entitling Plaintiffs to an award of punitive damages.

Read the entire complaint here, as downloaded from PACER this morning: 

Meadows et al v. Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc.

Dickeys logoAlso read:

DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Franchise Complaints


Is DICKEY’S BBQ Hiding Franchise Failures?

DICKEY’S Franchise Owner Claims he was Burned by Dickey’s, Roland Dickey, Jr.

Are DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Franchise Owners Being Exploited?

DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT: How to Lose Everything in 5 Years or Less (Part 1)

DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT: How to Lose Everything in 5 Years or Less (Part 2)

DICKEY’S BARBECUE Franchise, Jerrel Denton, Roland Dickey Jr. Sued for Fraud

DICKEY’S Franchise: Open Letter to Roland Dickey, Jr.

DICKEY’S BBQ Is Dickey’s Overselling its Franchise Opportunity?

DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Franchise: Roland Dickey Sells to, Then Sues, Registered Sex Offender

DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Makes an Unhappy Franchisee Happy… Then Sues Him





Tags:  Meadows et al v. Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc., Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Class Action Lawsuit, Dickey’s class Action Lawsuit, Dickey’s franchise lawsuit, Dickey’s franchisee lawsuit, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise, Roland Dickey Jr., Roland Dickey, Vincent Bartolotta Jr., Karen Frostrom, Rebecca Blain Morrison, Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire, Amy Meadows, Dawn Toff, Donna Schiano,  Alfred Pena

27 thoughts on “DICKEY’S Franchise Class Action Lawsuit Filed in CA

  • best restaurant service

    dickeys simi valley does not pay the repair service co.’s Barry will not pay his repair bills he thinks some one like OLE hickory should pay his bills on his smoker ole hickory has already paid for repairs why does he think he is not responsible for repairs he did not maintain his equipment BERRY owes BEST RESTAURANT SERVICE $1382.31 for repairs already performed NEXT DAY AIR of motor and fan and 2 new fan blades and a service call the day before bad business man and franchise owner shame on you

  • Concerned Ex Employee

    I am an ex Management level employee of Dickeys BBQ. I left as soon as I was let into the “inner circle and was privy to what was really going on.
    I am available to testify or consult with pre-purchase, post-bankruptcy, or if you are under the stress of Rolands hit squad. Ignore your demand letter for “liquidated damages and get in touch with me through Unhappy Franchisee. Together we can put an end to this nonsense.
    No brand should be allowed to have a cumulative failure rate over 50% (conservative).

  • Rebecca Blain Morrison

    ‘Concerned Ex Employee’ – please give me a call, I’m one of the attorneys representing Plaintiffs in the California class action lawsuit. Call me at my San Diego office ((619) 236-9363 or email me at Thanks,

    Rebecca Blain Morrison

  • Charles

    Concerned Ex employee,

    I am in the process of entering into an agreement to open multiple stores. I have been in a store now for 3 months and seen several things that are very alarming. 1 of the current stores performs very well. I would like to hear what you experienced could you please email so that we can discuss your experience. [redacted]


    [We don’t allow personal contact info posted in the comments. Please keep the discussion public so all can benefit. Thanks. ADMIN]

  • Concerned Ex Employee

    Ms. Blain I will be in touch.

    Charles pay attention to the red flags. This brand has hit its peak and will implode and be bought at a bargain price by a private equity firm. Buying a multi-pack will only add to the “sold but never opened” number which is outrageous. I wish you luck with whatever you decide to do.


    Concerned Ex Employee. I have a case against Dickey’s. Please contact me at [redacted] so I can reach out to you. Thanks.

  • Concerned Attorney

    Concerned ex employee. Please contact me at [redacted]. I am an attorney who represents multiple franchisees of the Dickey’s system mostly east of the Mississippi. Thank you.

  • Intrigued

    I wanted to know what came of this lawsuit. Personally, I think this is absolutely bogus. You guys will be lucky to win anything. The nonsense that they weren’t trained and nobody helped them open the store, is absurd. Especially the Hollister location. They had the owner go out there and help with the opening. They were given training with the employees on site. Marketing of any company is upto the owner and how they decide to reach out to their customers. Appearantly the only good press they got was because of the closure. The management team blamed the closure of their locations on the cost of beef, but according to the employees, they over stocked for a big event and wasted a lot of product. I have worked for 4 different franchises and not one of them filed a complaint about not being able to serve “specialty” items. do you think McDonald’s lets you do that? What about letting them change vendors? No. If you think a national chain is going to change the way they do business because someone doesn’t like spending money to recieved the same product the other locations get. The franchises in Southern California do not have this issue.
    The only complaint that I have with Dickey’s is that they let people with absolutely no restaurant experience, own a stake in their business. It’s pathetic that people allow these kind people get into this for money and then sue when they figure out that they aren’t cut out for the job. People blame others for their mistakes and are quick to declare their rights. Best of luck to you all and your future endeavors.

  • maybe you can explain why the southern California franchises do not have this issue you rant about, since you seem to know so much about it.
    Funny how some of the changes that were proposed early on, are now being entered into the menu. i.e. tacos, sliders etc. why do you think that is. seems to me you have been drinking to much of Ollie’s Iced Tea.

  • Intrigued

    I’ve been to the stores in Bakersfield, Hanford and Santa Maria. That’s the only reason I said Southern California. I could’ve left that one sentence out and it would make no difference to my arguement. They all seem to be doing just fine.

    You may think it’s funny, but I think your being smug and negative. You may think that suggestions fall on deaf ears, but they don’t. There are many franchises who attempt different menu items but they typically use a test site to see how the customers take to the new items. If a store is failing, then they most likely won’t let them introduce new items. They release the items according to how they want them made and test the products in succeeding stores. It doesn’t just happen because someone thinks it’s a good idea.
    I’ve been a part of 4 different restaurant franchises and helped with many different product launches. I know a thing or two about it. My opinion isn’t influenced by tea. It’s based on facts. Thanks anayways.

  • I am looking to start a Dickeys franchise in the Southwest part of the US. What are the standard build out costs and how much should I be making in my first year as gross profit and net profits.

  • Don't Sue Me, Dickey's!


    I’m happy to help you save some time and money: take half of your savings out of the bank. Take the cash to your backyard and set fire to it. Now, go inside and congratulate yourself on only losing half of your life savings instead of all of it, and you didn’t waste any time building a failed store and having to go bankrupt and sell it at a loss.

    Have a good weekend, and you’re welcome!

  • Intrigued

    “Don’t sue me Dickeys” You’re part of the problem. Instead of trying for find a Solution, you choose to complain and not help. This man is genuinely curious about a business endeavor. The lack of respect and factual input doesn’t help. Your opinions don’t matter. In business, your actions speak louder than your opinions. If you have to spend your life savings on a business, you’re a horrible business owner. You can blame it on any one thing you want, but if you can’t successfully run a business, don’t give advice.

    Harley, go to the dickeys website. If that doesn’t help, go to That’s all the advice I got for that. The standard cost may be more expensive in your area and dependent on local contractors. Your profit depends on how you run your store. Most of the ones I have been in, have been ran by ignorant business owners who have little to no restaurant experience. Therefore, they waste their profits by not planning inventory or labor adequately because they don’t know any better. Good luck.

  • Upper U.S.

    “The lack of respect and factual input doesn’t help. Your opinions don’t matter.”

    No respect is Dickey’s standard operating procedure, so what goes around comes around, you should know that, since you’ve been around a lot.

    “Most of the ones I have been in, have been ran by ignorant business owners who have little to no restaurant experience.”

    How would you know that without being involved with the franchise, again Dickey’s standard operating procedure is to prey on investors like that.

    ” go to That’s all the advice I got”

    talk to dickeys falls on deaf ears. they don’t listen, they just placate you, something you would know about.

    “don’t give advice” follow it. your ignorance is in your grammar. have a cup of tea, you seem to like it.

  • Don't Sue Me, Dickey's!

    “Don’t sue me Dickeys” You’re part of the problem. Instead of trying for find a Solution, you choose to complain and not help.”

    On the contrary, I gave him excellent advice. If guarantee you that he will be happier and more successful if he follows it.

    Upper U.S. – you’re right. Dickey’s preys on the ignorant. They aren’t a barbecue franchise, they’re a bankruptcy franchise.

  • It is very sad that people that can’t cut it can sue. Nothing is assured in business and it comes with a lot of risk. As a Dickeys owner I can say it is a lot of work and you better be ready to take a beating from employees and guest at times. However this is normal in dealing with any type of business. Just because you can’t make it doesn’t mean Dickeys screwed you. You bought into a system and it needs to be consistent nationwide and you need to work your butt off to make it happened. I personally have not taken a day off in 4 months, but that’s what you have to do build any business to succeed for the long run.

  • Ex management I would love for you to contact me. I am not an owner in California but in another state and have all the issues they had and then some!

  • Greg,

    Stay in business a little longer, like a few years and you will see. Corporate lies and will tell you whatever you want to hear to abide by their rules. Have you ever transitioned into a closing store? Well I have. They will promise you the world and once the store is “churned” and your on the hook for the store they will take back everything they promised and if you want to leave? They threaten to sue you. You will sign an assumption agreement that states very clearly that any and all financial debts will follow the old franchisee but guess what? Once you sign that and debts pop up, corp will tell you to pay the debts else they will sue you. Don’t believe me? I have 200 pages of emails of all promises that were never kept and recants of everything promised.

  • Lodi Jane

    We frequented the Dickeys in Lodi, CA. It was so convenient to order online and go pick it up. But last year (maybe 6 mos ago) they changed up the menu. It seemed like everything was similar to fast food menu options. It was horrible. Not at all like the 2 or 3 meat meals.

    Today I was shopping next door and thought I’d grab something from Dickeys and that’s when I found out they had closed. Could some of the failure be due to this new menu? I know we only went there twice in the past year as opposed to once a month the previous year.

    Signed ‘A clueless customer’

  • Anonymous

    Lodi Jane,

    The new menu just gives corporate an excuse to why stores are closing. The real reasons behind stores closing in masses like they have been? Increased food costs (to owners some say even up to 71% higher food costs due to Dickeys kick backs from vendors) a failing business model, they squeeze you into second gen restaurants with crappy locations, and take their 9% off the top, they have owners commit to multiple locations in their first year they never intend to open. If your sales start to fail due to lack of marketing or you dare stick up for yourself then? They find a way to boot you out of your OWN store and sell it for another franchise fee or GIVE it to another owner to buy them six months to a year collecting that 9% from some other fool, refer to the close list posted on this page some stores have had over FIVE owners in a few years. Most owners put thousands of dollars of their own money each month in a store, to pay payroll, cover food costs and keep the lights on. The prey on people in the military to acquire their pension, they prey on retirees to get their retirements, and they prey on people who may have enough credit to get a loan to buy into this. Where do they all end up? In bankruptcy court and being sued by Dickeys.

  • Ex Franchisee

    I’m pretty sure ‘Intrigued’ is Roland Dickey himself.

  • Another Dickey's Franchise Victim

    If “Intrigued” isn’t RDJ it’s definitely corporate. They are slimeballs who couldn’t care less about their franchisees.
    I am an ex owner, who luckily sold my store thanks to Dickeys lying and telling my buyer that I was incompetent. My store has been sold again to some poor unsuspecting victim. I just spoke to an ex employee who stayed through both changes until recently. She said the same thing dozens of owners across the country have stated. Dickeys is corrupt and they don’t care about their franchisees. As for Southern California being successful that’s a lie and I’m pretty sure that person is just trying to sell all his failed acquisitions.

  • Burnt Ends

    Any one knows any class action lawsuit against Dickeys by ex o/o outside CA? Or are there any attorneys that are handling any lawsuit against Dickeys outside CA?

  • jess

    Fortman Law tel:(314) 522- 2312

  • Interested

    Has Fortman been successful in litigation or arbitration against Dickeys yet?

  • We started the process of purchasing a franchise in 2013. We were told that it would only cost around $50,000 to open a Dickey’s franchise. After our initial $10,000 payment, they referred us to someone to help us locate a potential site. At that point we realized the $50,000 start up was not true. A more realistic cost was closer to $250,000-$300,000. We tried to contact Gerald at corporate (the one who was selling us on the $50,000 startup idea) and he wouldn’t return any form of communication. They kept our $10,000 initial “franchise fee” saying it would be there waiting for us when we were ready to start again, or we could possibly transfer it to another interested franchisee. It was a total scam. We didn’t have that money to lose. I will never give my business to Dickey’s restaurants again.

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