ALBERTVILLE – Patrick, Will and Tyler Younghouse, owners of Papa Dubi’s Cajun Kitchen in Albertville, are Alabama’s 2021 Silver Retailers of the Year in the Annual Sales Between $1 Million and $5 Million category. Papa Dubi’s is among the 11 businesses the Alabama Retail Association is honoring this year as Retailers of the Year.
Founded in 2005 by father and son Dan and Patrick Younghouse, Patrick and his two brothers, Will and Tyler Younghouse have been running the business that pays homage to their great-grandfather since 2016. The restaurant, which specializes in Cajun recipes passed down through the family, will soon move to a $2.4 million, 5,500-square-foot facility just down the road that will offer the first indoor/outdoor dining experience in Marshall County. Being innovative during the pandemic led to a growth in sales that helped make this move possible.
“We took a ‘thrive, not survive’ mentality,” said Will Younghouse as the initial spread of COVID-19 led to shutdowns. Importantly, the restaurant closed “one week before being forced to prepare our new carryout, delivery, drive-thru system. It paid huge dividends immediately.” he added, “We were the first restaurant locally to number parking spots, use window expo markers and dictate where customers were to park when arriving.”
The restaurant launched online ordering, upgraded its website and posted beautiful images of food on social media. The Younghouses also took advantage of every angle allowed, including selling beer to go. “It meant all of our employees had the opportunity to keep their jobs and make more money than they had ever made while working here. Our staff actually grew during the pandemic,” Will Younghouse said. “We were doing more business without a dining room than the previous 14 years of our existence.”
“The growth was so significant, that the restaurant outperformed its previous year even without its catering business,” said Stan Witherow, president of the Albertville Chamber of Commerce, who nominated the business. When accepting the award, the brothers said, “This is our employees’ award. They bought into our ideas and beliefs and worked their tails off for us every day.”
The Retailer of the Year judges noted that Papa Dubi’s “probably had the best COVID success and innovation of any entrant.”
Will Younghouse also advocates for schools to encourage students to work in restaurants. “There’s no better industry to learn teamwork, working under pressure, multi-tasking and dealing with the public than this industry,” he said.
One of Papa Dubi’s former student workers, Annie Furrer, echoed the value of her experience in her support for their nomination. “I am certain that I learned more about life and how to exceed customer expectations during my time waiting tables than I did in the classroom,” she said.
The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards, started in 1999, honor retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities. This year’s winners were selected from 49 entries submitted from a pool of 80 nominees.
“Patrick, Will and Tyler Younghouse are retailers of the year EVERY year to Papa Dubi’s customers, their 40 employees and the Albertville and other Marshall County communities,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown.
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Through sales of food, clothing, furniture, medicine and more, our 4,300 independent merchant and national company members touch almost every aspect of daily living. Since 1943, we’ve worked to promote what’s best for the retail industry in Alabama. Whether voicing the retail view when public policy is made, educating members about issues that impact them, negotiating rates for benefits and services or communicating the retail story, the Alabama Retail Association and its members are better together.