In the Store | October 2013 | By Gary M. Stern

Small Prices, Big City

Barbecue chain’s strategy helps it survive in a high-cost locale.

New York City barbecue chain Dallas BBQ succeeds even with low prices.
Dallas BBQ uses a low-price, high-volume approach to serve barbecue fans in the Big Apple. Dallas BBQ
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Dallas BBQ, a chain known for serving low-price, high-quality barbecue in 10 New York City locations, has managed to do what many brands can only dream of: operate on budget-friendly prices in an expensive area.

Stuart Wetanson, a fourth-generation manager for the brand, says Dallas BBQ’s high volume and strong locations help the brand survive in every NYC borough except Staten Island. And New Yorkers especially love the prices; if ordered before 6 p.m., the Early Bird Special can feed a couple with two rotisserie half-chickens, chicken soup, baked potatoes or fries, and cornbread, all for $10 before tax and drinks.

“It’s a place for quick, affordable meals, to gather and have some drinks that pack a punch and don’t empty your wallet,” Wetanson says.

The largest Dallas BBQ, in Times Square, seats 780 people and, on a busy night, dishes out 10,000 meals, including catering, takeout, and delivery. The smallest eatery, in the East Village, accommodates 150 patrons and can serve 1,000 meals a night.

“Volume is critical to the success of our restaurants,” Wetanson says. “We’re busy from 11 a.m. until midnight.”

Because the brand doesn’t offer dessert, diners move through the meal quickly and turnover builds revenue. Dallas BBQ restaurants in popular pedestrian areas also build traffic and enable the brand to appeal to both New Yorkers and tourists.

Darren Tristano, executive vice president at restaurant industry research firm Technomic, says Dallas BBQ’s lower prices attract a higher volume of business, which in turn drives profits. In addition, “since the starting point is much lower, upselling is easier,” he says.

The chain also understands the diverse New York audience, Tristano says. "It promotes group-friendly sharing and enables diners to sample and keep prices down based on large portion size."