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Amarillo Globe News: Texas Tea owner set to open Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Amarillo

In The News

Amarillo Globe News: Texas Tea owner set to open Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Amarillo

Published: 27 Sep 2016

Amarillo Globe News featured the opening of a new Dickey's in Amarillo, TX

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Amarillo entrepreneur Justin Howe has several successful local businesses in his portfolio already, and his next planned venue is to open the first Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in the Texas Panhandle.

The business undertaking is called Amarillo Barbecue Investment Group, which is shooting for a March 1 opening.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is currently under construction in the new Winpark Place strip center near Hillside Road and South Bell Street.

Dickey’s is a Dallas-based restaurant chain that was founded in 1941 and has more than 560 locations in 43 states. Its menu features brisket, pulled pork, spicy cheddar sausage, smoked turkey, buttery rolls and a variety of sides.

Howe’s previous business ventures include granite fabricator Adobe Walls Stoneworks, concrete contractor ProCrete Construction, aircraft management and sales company Go-Time Aviation and the Texas Tea water and ice enterprise that was born in 2009 and has grown to two locations in the city.

The next step for Howe could be a marriage of those barbecue joints with his Texas Tea ideas.

“We’re going to franchise Texas Tea at some point in the future,” said Howe, 38. “We get multiple franchise requests every week.”

The only problem, he said, is his inexperience with what it takes to run franchises that become successful.

He actually plans to open a total of three Dickey’s locations in the Amarillo area in the next two years, and he believes that alone will provide answers.

“I don’t know anything about the franchise model,” Howe admitted, “so Dickey’s is going to teach me a lot about franchising this Texas Tea concept.”

Along with that, Howe has a full-time real estate developer on his payroll who has scoped out some decent opportunities for that marriage.

“If I could put a Dickey’s and a Texas Tea next door to each other, I can take advantage of some corners that I wouldn’t normally be able to afford,” Howe said.

As many local food aficionados know, the Texas Tea operation at 6045 S.W. 34th Ave., is next door to Buns Over Texas.

As previously reported by the Amarillo Globe-News, Howe said sales at Buns improved as much as 20 percent six months after the restaurant added flavored teas.

Kim and Gary Hutchens, Howe’s mother and stepfather, own Buns Over Texas.

Howe said he bought into the partnership with Dickey’s after being impressed by the company’s business model and the introduction of its fourth-generation prototype eatery that took out about a third of its space.

“This is a 2,000-square foot store,” Howe said. “To get a smaller fast-casual concept that’s not a huge big multimillion dollar piece of real estate and a big multimillion dollar fancy building is attractive to me.”

The 4G prototype eliminates the need for fryers, ovens and ranges, and offers a pared-down menu that still includes eight meats and 12 vegetables.

Howe expects the first Dickey’s to seat just under 100 customers and employ about 15 people.

“We’re not under the impression that we’re going to go in here and kill it ‘just because,’” Howe said. “It’s about quality and consistency and proving to these customers that you’ve got what it takes.”

That’s something he said his family’s Buns Over Texas brand has achieved over the years.

“We’ve been in business since 1989, and sales are on the way up,” Howe said. “It’s not easy, but it’s definitely possible.”