Ask anyone in the Seattle area if they’ve “met the man,” and you’ll likely see a bit of fear come over their face. In a little nondescript building practically under the Interstate in Bellevue is a great BBQ joint called Dixie’s. Sure the food is good. In fact it’s great. But that’s not the main reason the line at lunchtime heads out the door and around the corner of the building. It’s the experience, and the brand the owners of Dixie’s have created.
I’m out in Seattle this week for some meetings, followed by some R & R. I’m here with Don Wedington from work, and he’s never “met the man.” So we rounded up some clients/friends (namely Brian Keller) and made the short drive to Dixie’s for lunch. As normal the line was long, but as the sign says, it’s not McDonalds. But the show starts in the line. Gene, the joint’s owner, was on his game today. He struts around the dining room and patios donning his signature apron. But “the man” is in the saucepan in his hand.
Gene, in addition to creating some great bbq recipes, created a killer hot sauce. It looks like a radioactive concoction full of pepper seeds and pain. Gene walks the floor again and again challenging diners to try the sauce. With some coaxing from the regulars and locals, the first-timers usually step up to the plate. You really can’t say no to Gene. He uses his spoon to place a drop almost too small to see on your plate. But that is more than enough to make you regret the decision. You see, there is a reason the locals don’t try it again!
So, getting back to the point, there are a bunch of bbq places in the area. My guess is a few even have better food. But people come for the atmosphere, Gene, and the Man. It’s a great example of building a unique brand. People come to Dixie’s, bring their friends, and tell everyone they know. “Meeting the man” is a badge of honor out here (and a bumper sticker for that matter).
The brand is so successful that it has made its way in to Qwest Field, the home of the Mariners, as well as on to Microsoft’s huge campus cafeteria! It just goes to show the importance of finding what is unique about your business and building the brand around it.