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

Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. is allegedly threatening to sue a U.S. Army Veteran for not being able to afford to keep his Starkville, MS Dickey’s franchise open.

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)  We have received an anonymous tip that Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. (DBRI) is threatening to sue the Dickey’s franchise owner in Starkville, Mississippi for being unable to afford to keep his franchise operating.

Dickeys Barbecue UniversityThe threat was allegedly issued just after Christmas when the owner reportedly could not afford to keep his Dickey’s franchise open.

According to the anonymous tip, an attorney from Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc. fired off a threatening letter to the Dickey’s franchise owner warning that if he could not keep his franchise open, Dickey’s would sue him for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Dickey’s Allegedly Threatening to Sue Army Veteran

We have never spoken to nor corresponded with the Starkville MS Dickey’s franchise owner.

The tip we received did not identify the name of the Starkville, MS franchise owner, and stated the Starkville MS Dickey’s had closed over Christmas weekend and that the franchisee was being allegedly threatened with legal action by Dickey’s.

We consulted the 2016 Dickey’s Franchise Disclosure Document and learned that the franchise owners of the Starkville, MS location are listed as John Thomas and Denita Thomas, 100 Rissell Street, #13 , Starkville , Mississippi  39346.

Judging from the photos and comments of the Starkville MS Dickey’s Facebook page, John Thomas was a popular and enthusiastic graduate of the October 2015 class of Dickey’s Barbecue University.

As recently as August, 2016 Dickey’s was using John Thomas in press releases to promote the Dickey’s franchise program.

The press releases praised Thomas’ friendly customer service, community involvement and catering promotion.

Dickey’s public relations writer always touted John Thomas’ military service and attributed a quote to him on the wonderful, caring support he’s received from DBRI.

On November 17, 2015, Dickey’s issued a press release  entitled Army Veteran Opens Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Starkville that reads:

Published: 17 Nov 2015

From The Daily Meal

Owner/Operator John Thomas

Starkville, MS  (  The 12th Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Mississippi is slated to open this Thursday in Starkville…

“The Dickey family welcomes Owner/Operator John Thomas into our ranks of franchisees,” says Roland Dickey, Jr., CEO of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. “Dickey’s is proud to offer many benefits to our veterans, including discounted franchise fees and ongoing support.”

…Before going into the barbecue business, Owner/Operator John Thomas was in the United States Army for 12 years, followed by a long stint in the Army National Guard. Thomas was attracted by Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc.’s franchising benefits for veterans.

“Dickey’s is very supportive of veterans, which I have experienced throughout this process,” Thomas says. “I am excited to open my first Dickey’s Barbecue Pit so close to Veterans Day.”

The press release states that “the new Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Starkville is located at 100 Russell St. in the College Park Shopping Center, Starkville, MS 39759. The phone number is (662) 617-8272.”

The media contact is listed as Michelle George 972-248-9899

We will try to contact Ms. George and Roland Dickey, Jr. to see if they can confirm or deny that John Thomas has closed the Starkville, MS Dickey’s just a year and a month after opening.

We will ask them to confirm or deny that DBRI is threatening to sue the U.S. Army veteran, who seems to have followed the Dickey’s system faithfully and energetically.

Dickey’s Used the Army Vet to Promote Its Franchise Opportunity

The Dickey’s franchise PR team loves to promote the military background of its franchisees and generate franchisee praise of Dickey’s support..

Dickey’s was using John Thomas as a success story just months before he allegedly closed.

A Dickey’s blog post published August 3, 2016 (“Real Talk with Real Owners – John Thomas in Starkville, MS”) states:

When guests visit the Starkville Dickey’s, they are always greeted warmly as if they are members of a big, happy family.

… [Customers] always receive top-notch service with a smile.

Starkville Owner/Operator John Thomas is a 30-year military veteran who also owned a construction company for 15 years.

When he was looking for a franchise he immediately loved that Dickey’s is a family-owned brand with stores that are friendly, casual and always fun.

“I like all the people I come in contact with every day,” John says. “My loyal guests have become friends, and I also appreciate all the support I get from corporate.

My area director always answers his phone and is willing to help with any issue, large or small.”

John Thomas’ Area Director evidently wasn’t able to keep Dickey’s legal department from threatening to sue a franchisee who appears to have done everything right and by-the-book… yet still failed.

We invite the Area Director for Mississippi to share his thoughts on what went wrong in Starkville, and whether Dickey’s should be threatening this army veteran.

Dickey’s May be Within Its Legal Rights to Threaten & Sue the Army Veteran

Dickey's Barbecue PitUnhappyFranchisee.Com is not arguing that Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. and Roland Dickey, Jr. are or are not within their legal rights to threaten and sue Army veteran John Thomas or other franchisees who are unable to keep their franchises open to the end of their 20-year term.

However, Dickey’s has distributed literally hundreds of Grand Opening press releases throughout the Internet and maintains them online even after the franchises have closed and/or the owners have exited the system.

We believe prospective franchisees, especially military veterans, should be able to see “the rest of the story” and learn the outcome of those new stores.

We believe that if Dickey’s has the right to quote an Army veteran who has yet to open as saying that Dickey’s is very supportive of veterans, that prospective franchisees should know whether he feels the same way a year after opening.

We would like to know whether Roland Dickey, Jr. believes that he and DBRI have done all they could to support Army veteran John Thomas and the Starkville MS franchise to succeed, and whether threatening to sue a military veteran is consistent with Dickey’s commitment to our servicemen and women.


A Personal Message for Dickey’s Franchisees John & Denita Thomas

Dickey's Barbecue University
If our anonymous tip proves accurate, we would like to express our condolences for the closure of your Starkville, MS Dickey’s franchise to you and to your employees.

We know how difficult closing a business can be, especially at holiday time.

John, we also thank you for your many years of military service.

We invite your trainers and fellow classmates from Barbecue U, your Area Director and Dickey’s support staff, your fellow franchisees, Roland Dickey, Sr., Roland Dickey, Jr. and all who know you to join us in wishing you a Happy New Year despite these circumstances, and the best of luck with all future endeavors.

All are welcome to leave a comment for John & Denita Thomas below.

Help Us Substantiate This Dickey’s Anonymous Tip

DBRI representatives, management, attorneys and other informed parties are invited to substantiate or refute the anonymous tip that the franchisor is threatening to sue Army veteran John Thomas for closing the Starkville, MS Dickey’s Barbecue Pit location.

The company is invited to provide clarification, explanation, rebuttal or any other statement regarding this or other allegation to appear on this website.

It’s our policy to publish both sides of contentious issues with equal prominence, when at all possible.

We also will be happy to correct and factual errors made.

Share Your Anonymous Tip about Dickey’s or Other Franchise Companies

Dickey's Barbecue PitFranchise owners and their employees, area directors, corporate employees, vendors, customers, friends and concerned citizens can provide anonymous tips about franchisor bullying, threats, legal actions and other unseemly and/or unethical acts against franchise owners by emailing us at UnhappyFranchisee[at]

If you would like to maintain complete anonymity (even from us), we suggest you send in your detailed tip using one of the free anonymous and/or disposable email accounts such as Guerilla Mail.   Keep in mind that some of these programs do not give us the ability to reply with questions, so please be as complete as possible and provide us with ways to verify your allegations, if possible.

There are numerous anonymous email service providers that don’t require registration.  We like this one:

Guerilla Mail provides disposable, temporary email that requires no sign-up.  Users can send a quick, anonymous email instantly and even attach a file up to 150MB in size.  You can technically receive emails at the long, scrambled email address they give you, but any messages received at the address, accessible at, only last one hour.


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5 thoughts on “Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc. Threatening to Sue U.S. Army Veteran

  • Anonymous

    His Area Director was probably terminated after the store closing just like our AD and many more across the country.

  • Ours was also


    I don’t know whether military veterans should receive preferential treatment or not. But I do believe that if Dickey’s is specifically targeting veterans and highlighting new franchisees’ military service as a part of their recruitment, veterans have the right to know whether those franchisees were shown the promised commitment AFTER they opened.

    It would be my guess that Dickey’s press release featuring John Thomas’ praise of Dickey’s support will still be on the Internet as a vet success story for years after he left the system having lost his investment. It’s possible if not likely that the legal threats are in part a tactic to get him to sign a non-disparagement agreement so he can’t share his true experience with prospective franchisees, vets and non-vets alike.

    Yesterday I sent emails to Michelle George and Roland Dickey, Jr.

    Michelle George’s automatic response said she’s on maternity leave, so I resent the message to the general PA email address and requested the interim PR contact. No response as of yet.

    I have emailed Roland Dickey, Jr. in the past & received no response. Here’s what I sent:

    Earlier today, we published a post about the closing of the Starkville, MS Dickey’s franchise location and the rumor that your General Counsel immediately sent a threat that Dickey’s would sue him for hundreds of thousands of dollars in liquidated damages for, well, failing.

    Here is the post:

    Can you confirm or deny that franchisee John Thomas is being threatened with legal action just one year and a month after opening the Starkville locations?

    If it’s true, can you explain the rationale? He seems like a model franchisee who maintained high levels of quality and customer service. As you pointed out in the press releases for him, he is a U.S. Army veteran with many years of service.

    To be sending him legal threats just seems to undermine the contention that you are truly committed to supporting our veterans.

    Do you think that you would ever consider changing your policy of threatening legal action against franchisees who followed the Dickey’s system and just ran out of money?

    I ask because I am looking into several other cases of military veterans who believed in and invested in Dickey’s under your assurances that you were committed to helping veterans, but later came to believe that your commitment to veterans is simply a hollow claim used to sell and resell franchises.

    I would welcome your clarification on this matter, and others.

    Thank you,

    P.S. We have had no contact with Starkville, MS franchisee John Thomas and he has not shared an information with us whatsoever.

    P.P.S. I have communicated our policy to you in the past, but want to make sure that you’re aware that our policy is to provide individuals and companies discussed on the site every opportunity to provide corrections, clarifications, explanations, rebuttals and or statement that helps us represent both sides of different issues or disputes. While we’re unashamedly advocates for franchisees, we understand the complexities of the franchise relationship and that things are rarely black and white. My goal is to provide both sides with every opportunity to have their viewpoints represented on the site, and I will make every effort to make sure corporate communications and responses are given fair play and exposure.

  • Annoymous

    Jean jacket up front Angela Pasten

    Long hair blonde mail in back Eric Evans

  • The Dickey’s website has the Starkville location listed as “Coming Soon”

    Here’s a story from January
    Starkville Dickey’s future in limbo
    Starkeville Daily News
    Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 19, 2017

    The city of Starkville is down one barbecue joint for the time being.

    After Christmas, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in the College Park Shopping Center on Russell Street shut its doors.

    Dickey’s spokeswoman Michelle George said in a statement to the SDN that the corporate office hopes to resolve the issues that led to the store closure, and apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused Dickey’s guests.
    “At this time, we hope to reopen the location, so that Starkville guests can continue to enjoy delicious Texas-style barbecue,” George said.

    Requests for comment from franchise owner John Thomas and College Park Shopping Center owner George Sherman were not returned as of Wednesday afternoon.

    According to a Dickey’s news release, the Starkville location opened Nov. 19, 2015, and was the 12th Dickey’s restaurant opened in Mississippi.
    – See more at:

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