ALL POSTSDICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT franchiseFast Food franchiseFOOD FRANCHISESRoland Dickey Jr.

DICKEY’S BARBEQUE PIT Franchise Closures, Internal Turmoil Revealed By UnhappyFranchisee.Com

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is being portrayed as one of America’s greatest current success stories, with a dozen new franchise locations opening each month, international expansion on the horizon, and business awards being heaped on its celebrated leader Roland Dickey, Jr.  However, franchise watchdog website UnhappyFranchisee.Com has released a series of reports revealing troubling secrets behind the company’s aggressive hype.   Could America’s largest barbecue chain be heading for a crash?

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)  DBRI, the Dallas-based franchisor of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, refuses to respond to inquiries regarding recent franchise failures and signs of both franchisee and employee distress.

Dickey's FranchiseIn fact, Dickey’s internal press machine keeps churning out press releases about new store openings and questionable awards being bestowed upon CEO Roland Dickey, Jr.

Despite Dickey’s claims of growth and success, the Unhappy Franchisee franchise watchdog website has been fielding complaints and disturbing insider reports that the self-proclaimed Dickey’s success story may be in danger of going up in smoke.

Today, the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Knightdale, NC closed.

Yesterday (2/27/17) franchise locations in St. George and Washington, Utah closed their doors.

Last week (on 2/22/17), Florida Dickey’s franchise owners posted on Facebook that both their two Jacksonville locations were now closed.  One had just opened less than two months earlier.

The week before, on 2/15/17, the Arizona Daily Star reported that local franchisee had closed his Dickey’s Barbecue Pit locations in Tucson and Oro Valley and reopened them both as Jackson’s restaurants.

Earlier in the month, a franchise owner closed all four of his Houston-area Dickey’s  in the same day.

All told, we’ve uncovered evidence of more than 30 Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise locations believed to have closed since December, 2016.

In addition to the closures, Unhappy Franchisee has documented evidence of widespread franchise churning, which is the practice of reselling failed or failing franchises to new owners, to either hide a high failure rate by keeping non-viable locations open and operating, to collect new fees or royalties from a succession of owners, or both.

When franchises are churned,  a single store may represent lost investments incurred by several previous owners in addition to that of the most recent franchisee.

At Least 35 Dickey’s Franchises in 12 States Closed in Past 3 Months*

With the help of numerous Dickey’s franchise owners, Unhappy Franchisee has compiled a list of more than 30 Dickey’s locations in 12 states that have been shuttered from December, 2016 through February, 2017.

Many more Dickey’s Barbecue Pit restaurants are struggling to remain open, and it’s we’ve been told more closings are likely.

Since December 1, 2016, franchise owners in Dickey’s home state of Texas closed 8 locations in Conroe, Corpus Christi, Frisco, Houston, Katy,  Spring, and Tomball, Texas.

California is believedto have experienced 7 closures from December to February, with Dickey’s units shuttered in  Stockton, San Ramon, Sunnyvale, Pleasant Hill, Jackson, and Tracy.

In Utah, four Dickey’s Barbecue Pit locations closed (American Fork, South Jordan, St. George, Washington)

Florida franchisees suffered three losses, with one Orlando Dickey’s closing in December and both the Jacksonville locations closing on the same day in February.

Franchise owners in North Carolina closed three Dickey’s franchises (Greenville, High Point, Knightdale) in recent months.

Arizona (Tucson, Oro Valley),  and Nebraska  (Grand Island, Lincoln) and each lost 2 Dickey’s franchise locations.

Dickey’s franchise locations also reportedly closed in Illinois (Wheaton), Louisiana  (Monroe), Mississippi  (Starkville), Pennsylvania (Easton) and Wisconsin (Menomonie).

Dickey’s franchise owners in Colorado, California, Utah also exited the system by transferring franchise ownership to other owners, likely at a loss of some or all of their investments.

See our full (work-in-progress) list of  previous closures and known ownership transfers here:

DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Closed Location List

* Since DBRI continues to ignore our repeated requests for confirmation or corrections regarding our Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Closed Location List, we must gather information about store closing from our insider sources and public records.  Please consider all numbers and information as estimates that were verified to the best of our ability, but may have since changed.

Franchisees Blame Combination of Factors For Failures; Employees Fear More Layoffs

Unhappy Franchisee has provided a safe haven where franchisees and employees alike can safely share their experiences and challenges with the management of DBRI.

Dickey's Barbecue PitFranchisees and employees may share their opinions and experiences through confidential emails to UnhappyFranchisee[at] or by leaving anonymous comments on any related post.

We have been told by anonymous sources that early last year, Roland Dickey, Jr. took on huge debt through Wells Fargo in order to buy out his cousin’s and other family members’ shares of the company.

Some believe this caused a financial strain that resulted in two waves of employee layoffs.   Multiple Dickey’s former employees have told us that there were two waves of employee layoffs, one early in 2016.   Dickey’s corporate employees  have expressed a concern that the third wave of layoffs within two years may be coming.

At the same time, Dickey’s franchisees have reported that early in 2016, they experienced a sharp drop in the amount and the effectiveness of Dickey’s consumer marketing to drive traffic to their locations.  Despite being contractually obligated to do so, President Renee Roozen has ignored requests for an audited accounting of franchisee ad fund expenditures. (Letter to DICKEY’S President Renee Roozen re: Withheld Marketing Report)

Many franchisees have complained that they are experiencing sales drops in the negative double digits, in part because of drastic and arguably ill-conceived Dickey’s menu changes that franchisees say have hurt sales and driven up costs.

Unpopular changes in food distributors and other vendors has been cited as other factors putting a strain on franchisee’s ability to operate profitably.

While many of these allegations are rumors and opinions, they represent the views of troubled home office employees, former employees and franchise owners who have contacted us.  DBRI has been repeatedly asked to comment on these allegations, but have declined to respond.

Dickey’s Legal Department is Swift & Unforgiving Against Failed Franchisees

One might think that a franchisor like Dickey’s would express concern, sympathy, and even appreciation to the many franchisees experiencing substantial financial losses.

After all, these are individuals who believed in the Dickey’s brand, invested in the Dickey’s franchise, and followed the Dickey’s system of operation.

Yet one would be wrong when it comes to the franchisor Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. (DBRI).

DBRI seems to have two faces.

The first face is that of the seemingly dedicated, conscientious, successful barbecue-speaking professional side that denies that there are major problems within its system and keeps parading out questionable press releases and meaningless awards.

The second face is the mean-spirited, vindictive, bullying side led by an in-house legal team headed by General Counsel Christine Johnson.

Last year, Johnson stated that her in-house legal team included four full-time attorneys.  That’s approximately one full-time attorney for every hundred Dickey’s franchise owners.   Add to that support staff and numerous outside law firms, Dickey’s seems to have planned for great numbers of franchise store transitions and disputes well in advance.

Christine Johnson’s resume proudly

And Dickey’s is using its investment in heavy legal firepower to the fullest.  In-house attorneys like Johnson and Matthew Frizzo slap broken franchise owners with legal demands for hundreds of thousands of dollars within days of closing, allegedly dispatch 3rd parties to steal and destroy franchisee property, and bully and attack Dickey’s franchisees with such vehemence that they sent at least one franchisee (a husband and father of two young girls) to the emergency room in cardiac arrest.

The franchisee had put his heart, soul and family finances into trying to make his two Dickey’s locations work, but could no longer afford to keep his doors open.  They day he received Dickey’s legal notice that they were coming after him with every legal means available, he suffered massive chest pains.  At the time, he was driving with his two young daughters in the back seat.

Not long after he was admitted to the cardiac unit (the same day he DBRI’s notice that they intended to sue him), Dickey’s sent a crew to strip the franchisee-owned signage from his two stores and destroy them.

Says Sean Kelly, publisher of, who has heard the stories of many failed and failing Dickey’s franchise owners:

Every one of those franchise closings represents financial and personal hardships for one or more families.  Some represent strained and broken marriages, or family homes lost to foreclosure.

In my opinion, there is something seriously wrong with people who aggressively sell a franchise opportunity, encourage individuals to invest their savings, IRAs and even put up their homes on the line as collateral… and then threaten, bully and SUE them when they lose everything.  I don’t understand it.  I don’t know how Roland Dickey, Jr., Renee Roozen, Christine Johnson, Bryan Pelt and the rest of their team sleeps at night.  They must have studied Quiznos, which didn’t relent in their attacks on franchisees until at least one I know took his own life directly as a result.

How do these people get themselves motivated every morning?  Do they look in the mirror and say “Let’s go crush those fools who trusted us into dust today!  That heart attack was good… But today let’s push someone completely over the edge!”

The business and franchise media need to stop promoting this fake success story, and DBRI employees need to voice their opposition to the way franchisees are being treated, and put an end to this abuse.

Also read:

DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Closed Location List

DICKEY’S Franchise Owners: Tell DBRI Your Biggest Concerns, Anonymously

DICKEY’S Franchise Owners Share Frustrations & Fears

DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Franchise Complaints

Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc. Threatening to Sue U.S. Army Veteran



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21 thoughts on “DICKEY’S BARBEQUE PIT Franchise Closures, Internal Turmoil Revealed By UnhappyFranchisee.Com

  • Mitch Bailey

    Dickeys BBQ pit scottsdale as store136 closed June 2016

  • Unhappy old employee

    Part of that layoff round with Dickeys. This article is on point

  • Unhappy old employee

    I was a part of the massive round layoff in the corporate offices. A lot of really good people lost their job. Blessing in desguise. This article is on point.

  • Anyone who can provide more information but doesn’t want to post here can email me at unhappyfranchisee[at]

    All info sources are treated with the utmost confidentiality. Thanks.


  • Anonymous

    For those of you apart of the massive lay offs how many people were let go? Each time? Any higher up execs?

  • Anonymous

    The marketing leadership team is an absolute joke.

  • Anonymous

    does someone know if DBRI sued any of the 30 newly closed locations ?

  • Anonymous

    They are offering most of them walk away deals. If you don’t sue us we won’t sue you

  • anonymous

    Are they paying people to take these walk away deals?

  • Anoymous

    No it’s a free escape.

    We won’t sue you for oodles of money if you don’t sue us. They let you just walk away with all your debt,

  • Many more Dickey’s Barbecue Pit restaurants are struggling to remain open, and it’s we’ve been told more closings are likely.

  • gretch norton

    Where in the world is Roland Dickey Jr ? RDJ’s last tweet and post to his blog was February 23 “6 Screw You moves….” Has the family changed the locks on him? Forbidden him to publish self-aggrandizing statements? has been all about claiming their Woman Power the last month. Hear them roar?
    publishing ‘Female Leaders will evolve the industry” and “Female execs … rising to the top of a male-dominated field”. And for the first time anyone knows of, Mrs. Dickey Sr. is out making deals to keep franchise locations open and spreading the word that donating store sales to Her charity organization makes her happy!
    RDJ must be immersed in building this super impressive website for His new company. Check it out

  • Anoymous

    Gretch Norton, I was actually wondering the same thing. Where is RDJ as of late? When has he ever let someone other then himself take the spotlight? I mean hes bought out his cousin and now his brother according to some sources. I wonder if he’s going to add the other companies he’s hiding behind. Like the meat company he owns? The one that slaps the Dickey’s label over the actual brand and up charges owners. I’m surprised Mrs Dickey wants to even be out in public as her former commissioners office is being investigated for fraud and other felonies. My kids who are under the age of 10 could put together a better website then that crap splash page he made.

  • I’m considering purchasing an existing Dickeys franchise. I’ve been reading the negative comments about franchisee experiences. I now have concerns. Please help me understand your experiences and why I should or should not get involved with a Dickeys franchise. Is Dickeys corporate making things right to correct these wrongs?

  • Anonymous

    In short Russ?

    No they are not correcting anything

  • Anything but Dickeys

    Russ, run far far away from Dickey’s as quickly as possible.

  • To Russ:

    I am a 5-year (maybe even longer ;-) owner with a decent Net Profit track record. Looking back, I’d be the first to say buying a new Dickey’s is a crap shoot. Second, buying an existing Dickey’s is buying snake oil. Third, buying a “closed/closing/failed/failing” Dickey’s with the idea of turning it around is imprudent on many levels.

    One of Dickey’s hallmark sales pitches is that if you purchase an existing Dickey’s you will have a “much lower entry cost.” They’ve attempted to run that line on me to get me to purchase several closing/failing Dickeys and a few prospective owner enchanted with the “lower cost” Dickey’s option. They speak of it as “an opportunity”. For whom? It’s another way of them shoring up/getting another person obligated to them for monthly royalty and advertising fees.

    Bottom line — You may be able to walk on water; however, if you don’t have sales (for whatever reason — and certainly not limited to the fact that the previous owner was a “BAD OPERATOR”), you won’t have money to pay your bills. You better get comfortable very fast with the idea of working for free while you wait for sales to turn around, long term, if ever. You also better explore (before purchasing an existing Dickey’s) all avenues to pay for all of the costs associated with aging/second hand FFE and buildout, both which are undoubtedly approaching replacement and heavy maintenance, not to mention pay uncontrollables (doctor’s visits because you will become ill), etc. as well as Dickey’s royalty and advertising fees, even if it means YOU DON’T HAVE ANY NET PROFIT, and YOU have to beg, borrow, or steal to come up with ALL amounts owning.

    Moreover, if you’re buying a “closing/closed/failing/failed/underperforming” Dickey’s, what in the world makes you think you can do what the first owner could not do? To be honest, I suggest running. . . . I speak from the point of view of a person who owns and operates a successful Dickey’s.

    Through the years I’ve heard Dickey’s corporate lay the closing of every Dickey’s entirely at the feet of the owner/operator. Dickey’s corporate is equally responsible. It provides poor and ineffective franchise support. After years of observation, corporate staff often lacks real world business savy and experience in running anything — other than their mouth. Dickey’s corporate pretends to provide Operations, Marketing, and IT support, which is an absolute joke. Dickey’s corporate has no “area experts” in anything. Yet, it gloriously celebrated 75 years in business last year. If you ask for an answer, you will get the wrong answer or an arbitrary answer. This was the practice when I arrived and it remains in full effect today. Remember, Dickey’s is owned and controlled by a select group. They may have acquired their fortune of others but they take no pride in building a future with the people responsible for their fortune. They seemed to think this is acceptable because they won’t change the culture.

  • Anonymous

    Spot on Just Joe. The thing I have to add when taking over an existing store keep in mind it may have not been just one owner that’s failed at that store it may be multiple. How can 4-5 people take on a “great store” and it always be the owners fault? Some stores have literally had 4+ owners in a short period of 3 years. Some are never reported because they’ve change twice before the new FDD has came out. The sub par marketing, IT and operations team you get are usually paid for outside of your 9% you pay to them. You will also be required to pay a $99 tech fee per month to Dickeys and that doesn’t include the money you already pay to NCR for tech support on your aloha system and BOH computer. online ordering? Even if you don’t want it you will need it and you will pay Dickeys to have it literally too Dickeys under some shell of a company they will call an affiliate. Want to use a third party company to deliver or sell your food? Ez cater, stub hub etc Dickeys will want to be a part of that so they can ensure you pay them their percent.

    They basically own the owner. You will be an employee that works for free with no medical benefits and like Joe said you will have health problems from the stress. We could probably start a thread on all the medical problems owners have had. It would be the be the worst of the worst.

  • This story is 100% accurate. It is almost identical to our own. Within days of closing our Dickey’s franchise we were sent a letter claiming they would sue us for over $900,000.

    As a married couple with a 2 year old son, we panicked. My husband did as much as the building himself. He sand blasted the exterior, he built the trash cans and remodeled most of the interior himself. We ran the store together and worked very hard to make it work.

    When we purchased Dickey’s we bought into their dream. My husband was a pilot in the Air Force. He was diagnosed with an eye disease and was taken off flying status. When he was released from the Air Force buying into a franchise at a discounted rate was one of the options sold to him. We talked it over and as a young couple with a less than 1 year old child, we decided to do it. We took a loan out and invested every penny we received from the Air Force into the business. Worst mistake of our life.

    We are still dealing with issues associated with Dickey’s. My husband attempted to communicate with corporate that we were struggling. They DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. They feed you their “family owned business” line and treat you like you’re one of them. As soon as you fail, the claws come out.

    I have nothing positive to say about this company. They ruined my life for many years and almost cost me my marriage. RUN AWAY FROM THEM.

  • S Hart

    Spot on. Dickey’s corporate is nothing but an office full of thugs. They lie to you, they threaten you and they will ruin your life. Run as fast and far as possible.

  • Norma Akopyan

    Thugs and thieves. They took franchise fees from me even when there was no franchise agreement signed, and now they refuse to refund my money even though the money was taken illegally, I paid for a training that I didn’t need and made me buy a merchant system I didn’t need.
    I wrote a letter to Roland Dickey and he totally ignored it. About my money, I was told that it stayed there for any future purchases (!!!!?????) who would want to do business with this kind of thieves.

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