Dickey's Barbecue Pit, the largest, fastest-growing barbecue chain in the country, is well-known for its pit-smoked meats, free ice cream, and big yellow cups. With locations already in 32 states coast-to-coast, the franchise is opening its first two locations in Utah.

Dickey's is continually growing, now with 134 locations and 18 set to open before the end of 2010.

The company's annual growth rate over the past two years has averaged 35 percent, according to company officials.  

Dickey's firmly believes it can set the standard in barbecue by continuing to roll out a national footprint.

The Dickey's franchise locations in Utah are owned by business partners Jan & John Thomson, David Reilly, and Dave Michelson.

"Barbecue is an underserved niche in Utah, and there is a lot of excitement about bringing Dickey's here," franchise co-owner David Reilly says.

The American Fork and Orem locations are the first two of three locations that will open in the state.

The third location will open in April 2011.

The Dickey's "move with the food" concept is one that has already proven to be very popular with the fast casual dining segment in Utah, according to Reilly.  

"Customers can enjoy a hot meal and easily be out the door in less than 30 minutes, without sacrificing quality," Reilly says. "I just can't wait to open our doors."

"We have so many new owner/operators who are investing with us. In this economy, we are glad people trust us for success. It is a great feeling to help people stand on their own two feet and become their own boss," says Roland Dickey Jr., president of Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, Inc..

With the high unemployment rate, Dickey's and their entrepreneurial partners are offering jobs to many and expanding when other businesses are shutting down.

"Our progress is surprising to a lot of folks, but it makes sense to us. People want to get out of the rat race," Dickey says. "In turn, these new stores are employing hundreds of people who otherwise would be on unemployment."

The first Dickey's Barbecue opened in 1941 in Dallas, Texas. The original location is still open for business and Dickey's Barbecue is still owned and operated by the Dickey Family.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, News, Dickey's Barbecue Pit