Industry News | April 15, 2007

Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes Bring Comic To Life

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Dagwood’s sandwich-making skills are legendary and have made his name synonymous with outrageous sandwiches. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “the Dagwood sandwich” as “a multilayered sandwich having various fillings” and notes its derivation as “a character who made such sandwiches in the comic strip ‘Blondie’ by Chic Young.”

Chic Young died in 1973, and his son, Dean, took over the strip, making every thought of Dagwood’s one of his own. And, over the past 30 years, Dean Young couldn’t stop thinking about opening a sandwich shop for Dagwood. He’s collected and created thousands of recipes over the years.

Now Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes are poised to become a reality, the result of a partnership between Dean Young, who brings his creative genius to the arrangement, and International Marketing Systems (IMS), which has 17 years’ experience creating communications and franchisee-support programs for large retail companies and restaurant chains. IMS has worked with leading fast-food companies and with Disney University in Orlando, which runs one of the leading training programs to instill a corporate culture in thousands of employees. Its fast-food clients have included Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits, Wendy’s, White Castle and Subway.

When Dean met IMS Chairman Lamar Berry, they realized the chemistry was there from the start. After several months of discussions, the Dagwood project became more than a casual business relationship and evolved into a partnership.

“Some things come along only once in a lifetime, and this really felt like that sort of an opportunity,” Berry, who has 30 years of franchising experience, said. “We, with our franchising and field-support systems background, and Dean, with his obsession with sandwiches, vision and creativity, can build what we believe will be one of the most successful franchising companies ever.”

The agreement puts Young in charge of menu product development and store design for the new franchise operation, while Berry and IMS will provide the guidance needed to build the franchise company and manage the business aspects of the joint venture.

Young is chairman of Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes, and Berry is vice chairman and chief executive officer. Berry has relinquished his title as CEO of IMS but will continue as chairman of that company. Assisting Berry will be IMS President Gary Dickson, a 35-year marketing veteran with extensive experience in fast-food operations and franchise systems.

Young plans to keep producing the “Blondie” strip, which is syndicated by King Features, and appears in more than 2,300 newspapers around the country and around the world, and reaches an estimated 280 million readers every day. And he has been grooming his daughter, Dana Coston, to take over the strip when he decides to spend more time in his role as Dagwood’s alter ego – making new sandwiches.

When fans come to the restaurants, they will encounter Dagwood, Blondie and their comic strip friends. While Dagwood’s will be an entertaining experience, first and foremost it will be about excellent food. “Fans may come in the first time to see Dagwood’s new shop, but they’ll come back again and again because of the food,” Young said.

Dagwood’s first store is expected to open in August in the Tampa Bay area of Florida not far from Young’s home and studio. Designed as a restaurant franchise company, Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes, LLC will begin offering more than 100 exclusive U.S. territories in May to business investors, called Market Partners, who will then sell and support store-level franchises.