Dick's is famous for its winking innuendo (evident in its name) and the lively banter of its servers. Just don't call them rude, says company president Ralph W. McCracken. He prefers the terms "irreverent" and "smart-ass."
Customers flock to the joint to "eat, drink and laugh," McCracken says. The jokes and attitude are designed to make diners smile, he says.
And while prolonged dick jokes may seem like a male-dominated pursuit, McCracken reports that the customer base is actually 66 percent female. He says that's one of the things he and CEO Ted Moats (both former Logan's Roadhouse execs) learned while doing their due diligence before taking over the company in 2008. Bacherlorette parties are part of the reason.
Dick's already has outposts in tourist-attracting towns like Las Vegas and Myrtle Beach. (A Gatlinburg store opens this week.) But the Nashville location will have a special allure — it's going in at 154 Second Ave. N., a four-level 1870s warehouse that already houses the Coyote Ugly chain and popular longtime bar and pool hall Buffalo Billiards. McCracken calls it synergy.
To make room for the new restaurant, Buffalo Billiards moved last week from the ground floor of the building to the spiffed-up second floor.
Coyote Ugly will remain in its current digs in the basement. As for the top floor, Dick's parent company, DLR Restaurants LLC, may move its corporate office (currently on Commerce Street) there this fall.
Dick's is building a completely new kitchen on the ground floor, and McCracken says it will serve as training site for staff from the entire chain. There will also be a stage for live music and multiple screens on the walls delivering interactive video, he says.
The menu includes burgers, crab cakes and chicken sandwiches. A signature drink at the bar is the tiki-esque "Ka'Mana Wana Lei-a" (if you don't get the joke, read it out loud) served in a hand-carved coconut Dick head.
The company already has its Nashville managers in place, but will eventually hire around 150 people to staff the store, McCracken says. Would-be servers must audition for their jobs to prove they are personable and energetic enough to pull off the concept. The restaurant also hires greeters to man the front door and help diners acclimate to the wisecracking service.
The shtick includes tall paper hats for the diners, on which the servers scribble a silly message poking fun at the wearer.
The Nashville location is scheduled to open in May. McCracken says a few weeks prior to that they'll post a sign out front announcing that job applications are being accepted.