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 51 Alabama cities and 30 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 during the 2015 Alabama Retail Day Luncheon in Birmingham. Stu Crum, president of Bridgestone Retail Operations, presented the keynote address. This marked the 16th 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 Gold Alabama Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales $5 Million to $20 Million category. Last year, the company was the Silver Retailer of the Year in the same sales 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 Roswell, Ga. A seventh restaurant in the family-owned chain is expected to open in Duluth, Ga., in 2016. The Dreamland brand has spread beyond its restaurants. To reach more than one million people annually, company sales also include ecommerce, concessions, retail products, fundraisers and corporate gifts. 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 57 years ago in a dream to build a restaurant on land beside Bishop’s Tuscaloosa home.
Victor M. Brown, vice president for minority and small business development at the Birmingham Business Alliance, who nominated 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!’ ”
In choosing Dreamland as the Gold winner in its category, the Retailer of the Year judges noted the company’s expanded menu, training to increase employee productivity by 5 percent, increased technology and enhanced ecommerce and catering.
Faced with the highest pork prices in the company’s history, Dreamland expanded it flavor profile by adding 10 new menu items that appeal
to a broader audience. The large scale project also involved rolling out a draft beer offering that focused on regional and local craft breweries. In its catering segment, the company opened a private event venue, “Big Daddy’s Back Room,” at its Mobile restaurant. “On-site catering is an exciting new revenue stream, and we are researching the viability of this concept in our other locations,” McAtee’s entry said.
Dreamland is all about its product, selling Dreamland Bar-B-Que Sauce, Dreamland Dipping Sauce, Dreamland Seasoning Shake, Dreamland Rub and Big Daddy’s Iced Tea in more than 1,000 grocery stores in the Southeast, including 300 Walmart, Winn Dixie and Publix grocery stores in Alabama. In 2014, the company introduced two new products, Dreamland Shake Peanuts and Dreamland Rub Peanuts, which are available online and in the restaurants. It also added a twang sauce and a BBQ vinaigrette to its product line. As a member of Buy Alabama’s Best and one of the most recognizable Made in Alabama products, Dreamland also partners and promotes other Alabama brands such as Bud’s Best Cookies, Granny Hester’s and Wickles Pickles.
Dreamland also has concessions operations in six stadiums and ballparks: Bryant-Denny, Jordan-Hare, Davis-Wade, Legion Field, Riverwalk Stadium and Regions Field. Its USDA quality Boston butts, ribs and other products also are available for resale for local school, church and athletic fundraisers.
The company also is interwoven into the community, investing nearly $$60,000 in its community partnerships through cash, food and services in 2014 alone.
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 265 employees and the communities where their restaurants are located.”
Media Contact: Ashley Davis Sandlin, Dreamland Holding Co. | 334.618.9988
Media Contact: Nancy King Dennis | 334.551.0643 (d) | 800.239.5423