June 27, 2008 // Franchising.com // - U.S. Marine Captain Robert Rutter won $500,000 on the FOX game show "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" Now he hopes to use part of his winnings and cash in on a barbecue restaurant franchise.
Rutter signed on with Dickey's Barbecue, a 67-year-old company based in Dallas that's expanding around the country. His store will be in the Shops at Wesley Chapel, one of six stores under development in Florida.
Construction of Rutter's 1,727-square-foot, 60-seat store is scheduled to begin by Oct. 15 to be completed by Dec. 16.
Rutter discovered Dickey's Barbecue while doing research on franchising as an investment for his game show money. He chose the company for its food, fast-casual concept and family tradition, a release said.
Franchises cost between $329,000 and $400,000 to build from scratch. Some owners spend less by converting an existing restaurant, said Tom Petska, franchise developer for the eastern half of the United States.
"I consider myself a barbecue connoisseur and as a Marine have had the opportunity to taste barbecue all over the country, and Dickey's is the best," Rutter said in the release. "I was really impressed with the company and CEO Roland Dickey, who took the time to answer all my questions and laid out a detailed plan for the future."
Rutter is also a chemistry student at the University of South Florida and will be applying to the USF College of Medicine for the 2009-10 school year. He holds a bachelor's in business administration from East Carolina University, the release said.
Dickey's Barbecue started franchising in 1994 and now has 90 locations in 25 states nationwide. Another 70 to 80 stores are in various stages of development and 35 to 40 are expected to open this year, Petska said.
Stores average about $1.2 million in annual sales, and the average check for dinner is $10.50, the company said. About 20 percent of a store's volume comes from catering operations, Petska said.