Dickey's Barbecue Pit, a family legacy that began in a one-room location 70 years ago, opened its 200th location on December 17 in Abilene, Texas.

"I never thought it would get to 200 stores. I remember when 100 was the goal and thinking to myself there is just no way. The Dickey family has really done a great job and should be proud—I know I am," says Dale Smith, a Dickey's franchise owner. "I don't see the Dickey family slowing down after the 200th. I see them continuing the growth with the same enthusiasm they have now."

Dale and his father, Frank Smith, were one of the first Dickey's franchise owners. They opened their first location in 1995 in Mesquite, Texas. Dale was 28 years old and Frank was 51 years old.

"My father and I have seen the brand grow from 10 stores to 200. It's been an amazing ride and we have enjoyed working with the Dickey family," Dale Smith says. "They treat their franchise owners like family and that's something special."

Today, Dwain Carpenter and his son Garrett are opening the doors to their first Dickey's location, just like the Smiths did 16 years ago. Garrett is the general manager of the store.

"I wanted to make sure that if I couldn't be at the store for some reason that I could at least have someone who I could trust whole heartedly to run the show—and that's Garrett," Carpenter says. "Garrett has put in countless hours into this store. He is one of the main reasons we were able to do this."

Dickey's is celebrating a milestone, 200 restaurants and an extended family that reaches across 36 states nationwide.

It's been banner year for Dickey's, with the introduction of its catering hotline, 1-866-BARBECUE, and the achievement of 200 stores. As Dickey's moves into 2012 it is all about exceptional customer service and satisfying the craving of barbecue lovers everywhere.

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