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20 questions with Diversified Restaurant Holdings

October 12, 2015 Article 4 min read
Diversified Restaurant Holdings is the creator, developer, and operator of Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern© and the largest franchisee for Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW). Since opening its first BWW location in 1999, the company has grown tremendously. In fact, it’s on track to have more than 100 locations by 2017.

David Burke, CFO and treasurer, recently took the time to tell us why their mission is to delight their guests and some other interesting facts about this growing business, including how they strive to use locally sourced foods in their restaurants.

  1. Briefly describe Diversified Restaurant Holdings.
    We’re a high-growth restaurant company that owns and operates full-service restaurants throughout the Midwest and Florida. We’re a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee, and we own the Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern© concept.

  2. How many locations do you have?
    We expect to operate 63 Buffalo Wild Wings locations and 26 Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern© locations by the end of 2015.

  3. Your mission is to delight your guests. Tell us about that.
    In the hospitality industry, guests are your most important asset. All of our employees should treat our guests the way they’d treat guests in their own homes. This translates into our guests talking about their positive experience with friends and family and, more importantly, visiting us again.

  4. What’s your biggest challenge in the competitive food industry?
    Acquiring and retaining talent. Overcoming this challenge can be accomplished by hiring smart people, offering highly competitive compensation and benefits, and nurturing an environment that values teamwork.

  5. Do you use locally produced foods?
    The vast majority of our food products are sourced from Michigan or the Midwest, including our ground turkey in Michigan.

  6. What dishes feature the Michigan turkey?
    It’s been an integral ingredient in a number of successful menu offerings, including Bagger Dave’s turkey burgers, our Amazingly Delicious Turkey Black Bean Chili, and our Sloppy Dave’s BBQ.

  7. Describe Buffalo Wild Wings to someone who’s never been there.
    I’d describe it as an entertaining, family-friendly, sports-themed grill and bar that offers a unique variety of sauces and rubs that accompany a broad range of menu items. Best of all, you can watch any sporting event that’s broadcast in the United States — from NCAA and NFL games to NASCAR to World Cup soccer.

  8. Speaking of the unique sauces at Buffalo Wild Wings, what’s the most popular?
    We have 21 different sauces and seasonings for our wings. We’ve found that Sweet BBQ, Asian Zing, and Spicy Garlic are the most popular, but it can vary from region to region.

  9. Complete this sentence. Bagger Dave’s customers love …
    that you can enjoy a premium, fresh, customizable burger; fresh, hand-cut fries; and one of many local craft beers.

  10. And complete that same sentence for Buffalo Wild Wings.
    Our customers love watching the game in a high-energy environment while enjoying their favorite menu item with their favorite sauce and many different draft beers.

  11. To what do you attribute your success?
    The fact that we delight our guests with more than our quality food. We delight them by keeping our restaurants clean and current (staying on top of technology, TVs, interior décor and furniture, and exterior building grounds) and by providing great service.

  12. What does your organization value most?
    People: our employees and our guests.

  13. What’s your organization’s best kept secret?
    Dave of Bagger Dave’s isn’t a real person.

  14. The Future 50 named Bagger Dave’s the 10th fastest-growing small chain in America. What does that mean to you?
    It’s a great accolade because it’s no small feat to grow at an accelerated pace while maintaining quality standards.

  15. What’s your vision for your organization’s future?
    Growth and enhanced profitability. At the restaurant-level, this is accomplished through productivity and higher average-unit-volumes. At the company level, enhanced profitability is driven by continued leverage of support functions.

  16. Describe your organizational culture in one word.

  17. Why that word?
    Because we value the effectiveness of running a lean organization and hiring staff to accomplish highly value-added tasks. We prefer to outsource many non-core tasks that a third party can accomplish more effectively due to expertise and scale. This allows internal resources to focus on operations, development, and our growth strategy.

  18. How do you measure success?
    As a public company, we measure success through the eyes of our shareholders. That’s obtained through profitable growth that outpaces competitors. That’s also attained through social and fiscal responsibility. By delighting our guests and being an integral part of our communities, we believe that we’re setting ourselves up for continued success.

  19. What philanthropic efforts are you most excited about?
    We’re very active in not only giving to charities, but working with them directly. Last year, we entered into an ongoing partnership with Riley Children’s Foundation in Indiana. Our Founder, President, and Chairman Michael Ansley is on the board of the Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan, and a number of employees are active in other local charities.

  20. What other business leaders do you respect and why?
    I respect any business leader who’s gone through the challenges of growing a business — simply because there’s no playbook. It’s impossible to prepare for all the unknowns. Persevering, despite headwinds and roadblocks, is worthy of respect.

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