BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, today recognized outstanding Alabama retailers representing 13 retail businesses with operations in 48 Alabama cities and 12 other states as Retailers of the Year. The 13 winning Retailers of the Year came from a pool of almost 70 nominees. The presentations were made at the Vestavia Country Club in Birmingham during the 2014 Retail Day Luncheon. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley presented the keynote address and signed a statewide proclamation declaring Sept. 23 as Alabama Retail Day. This marked the 15th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Chief Executive Officer Betsy McAtee and the management team at Dreamland Holding Co., LLC, earned the Silver Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales $5 Million to $20 Million category. Dreamland Holding Co., LLC, sells “ain’t-nothing-like-‘em-nowhere” ribs and barbecue at restaurants in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Northport and Tuscaloosa, Ala., as well as in Norcross and Roswell, Ga. Sales, however, don’t just occur in the restaurants. “Smart management led to a booming catering business as well as strong sales growth in a tough time for restaurants,” said the Retailer of the Year judges. While keeping the same spirit, flavor and style perfected by its founder, this Alabama institution has come a long way since God told brick mason John “Big Daddy” Bishop more than 50 years ago in a dream
to build a restaurant on land beside Bishop’s Tuscaloosa home.
In addition to its seven family-owned restaurants, Dreamland now offers nationwide shipping, concessions and retailing in 300 grocery stores throughout Alabama and the Southeast, reaching more than one million people annually. The largest growing sector of Dreamland’s business is catering. The goal is “not just to be the premier BBQ caterer in our markets, but to be the premier OVERALL catering service,” McAtee said in Dreamland’s Retailer of the Year entry.
Victor M. Brown, vice president for minority and small business development at the Birmingham Business Alliance, one of the nominators of McAtee and the Dreamland managers for the award, said the company has flourished under McAtee’s leadership. Dreamland first gained a national reputation when sports broadcasters covering the University of Alabama’s football team spoke of the great ribs they ate at the original Tuscaloosa restaurant. Brown said, “I first heard about Dreamland from a co-worker who would constantly say to me, ‘You gotta go to Dreamland!’ ” Patricia Ford, executive director, Homewood Chamber of Commerce, also nominated the Dreamland management team.
The chain and franchise restaurant continues to grow with new locations in development. In 2013, Dreamland moved away from segmented advertising campaigns, developing a brand-wide theme: An Alabama Tradition with Legendary Flavor. Although the restaurants plan their own budget, strategy and media buying, Dreamland incorporated this common thread throughout the process to create more continuity in its voice and messaging. It also brought its print, radio and social media messaging in house and began utilizing a brand-wide Facebook page, which saw its fans grow 63 percent in 2013.
Dreamland has concessions operations in six stadiums and ballparks across the Southeast: Bryant-Denny, Jordan-Hare, Davis-Wade, Legion Field, Riverwalk Stadium and Regions Field. Dreamland also offers USDA quality Boston butts, ribs and other products for resale for local school, church and athletic fundraisers. And it sells Dreamland Bar-B-Que Sauce, Dreamland Dipping Sauce, Dreamland Seasoning Shake and Dreamland Rub at Walmart, Winn Dixie and Publix grocery stores.
The company also is interwoven into the community, investing nearly $75,000 in its community partnerships through cash, food and services in 2013 alone. Among other charitable endeavors, Dreamland sponsors the Miss Alabama pageant, providing dinner to the contestants, pageant moms and production staff during pageant week. Besides donating meals, McAtee has served as a member of the board of directors for Camp Smile-A-Mile, which offers a summer camp experience for pediatric oncology patients and their families. Marketing Manager Ashley Davis Sandlin was nominated as a 2013 Birmingham’s Finest Honoree, a fund-raising contest for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Davis’ personal Dreamland Boston Butt Sale raised more than $2,500 in cash, while Dreamland provided nearly $4,000 in food for the campaign’s events. Dreamland also provided funds so the Homewood Middle School Team ROBOT could travel to a regional competition.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Betsy McAtee and the Dreamland BBQ management team are retailers of the year EVERY year to their customers, their 279 employees and the communities where their restaurants are located.”
Media Contact: Ashley Davis Sandlin, Dreamland Holding Co. LLC | 334.618.9988
Media Contact: Nancy King Dennis | 334.551.0643 (d) | 800.239.5423