Dixie Lee Chicken

Canadian feast to the world

Founded in Belleville, Ont. in 1964, Dixie Lee Chicken has been part of the food services industry for more than 45 years. Over the years, Dixie Lee established franchise representation in Jamaica, Guyana, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, China, United Arab Emirates, and Ukraine. Food franchises represent the strongest selling segment in the franchise industry. Chicken franchises are one of the largest segments of the food industry and show no signs of slowing down as people’s busy lifestyles continue to demand affordable and delicious fare. At the same time, people seek new, leaner and healthier alternatives to the traditional pizza, hamburgers and subs that dominate the industry. Dixie Lee offers diners such alternative, offering chicken, fish and seafood fare.

Recipe for success

Dixie Lee secret seasonings have been developed and perfected by the company over the decades and offer unique taste that satisfies even the choosiest gourmand. Noele Murano, the Director of Operations at Dixie Lee, told The Canadian Business Journal, “There is a great history behind Dixie Lee, and a well-recognized brand behind the franchise. We offer a proven franchise concept with turnkey operational support, while operating a proven business model with large product demand — there is a huge global demand for chicken in the food industry as it provides a healthy alternative to the traditional fare.

“Chicken is a proven staple in the Dixie Lee menu and all our chicken is halal-certified. However, we continue to enrich our system with new dishes as well. Our slogan may be that “If you like chicken, you will love Dixie Lee,” – which has proven to be true – but we also offer other dishes such as seafood. Our customers don’t come only for quality chicken, but also for quality fish and chips, shrimp baskets or our new healthy alternatives such as wraps, rotisserie programs and salads,” says Murano.

“Besides that, we also own our success to the ambiance in our restaurants. We offer our customers a relaxed family atmosphere where customers come and enjoy our top-quality trademark dishes at affordable prices, and receive a certain customer experience that comes from the interaction of the staff with the customer, creating a relationship, and making patrons feel at home.

“Another part of our success lies within the Dixie Lee team. It’s the communication between the corporate and our franchisees, working together as a team. We also keep the doors of communications open when working with all of our suppliers. This helps us provide great customer service and customer experience.

This creates a supportive environment and thorough training for all our franchisees whether they have former business experience or not, because we want our franchisees to run a successful business.”

Dixie Lee offers its franchisees three main franchise layout configurations — Take Out/Food Court, Convenience Seating, and Full Dining. The Take Out/Food Court configuration is designed for smaller applications, such as areas with a small population base or within food courts in shopping malls. The Convenience Seating configuration is a full-size location with seating capacity of 40 to 80 patrons, and offers the greatest flexibility as to the layout design. This configuration, most popular with franchisees, is ideal for walk-in traffic but also offers a drive-thru. The Full Dining configuration is the largest of the Dixie Lee configurations. With seating capacity of more than 100 patrons, this is a Dixie Lee themed restaurant with an outstanding array of menu items with table service, even a liquor licence, to meet the needs of a full restaurant concept. Besides these configurations, Dixie Lee also offers a catering service. The catering service satisfies the whole family with unique meal deals, and has been a large part of the company success.

International expansion

“Dixie Lee is Canadian owned and operated. Since we opened our first store in 1964, we have continued our steady growth. The company currently has 60 franchise outlets in Canada, mostly in the Maritimes, Ontario, and British Columbia. Several years ago we underwent a management change and the new management has been intensively focusing on increasing the awareness and growth of Dixie Lee,” Murano says.

“In Ontario, we have signed up 10 new restaurants. The first one has already opened in Whitby, and we plan to open the rest by the end of 2012, ranging from Ottawa to Western Ontario. Besides Ontario, we are looking to grow our market in British Columbia, and we are on schedule to open four new stores in this market within the next six months.

“Besides Canada, we have an ongoing international expansion plan in place. We found that prestige plays a great part in our international expansion, because owning a Canadian franchise, especially in developing countries, is a very unique model, and a huge deal for the franchisees and their diners. We have recently opened our first store in Jamaica, and we are looking for additional growth here. We have also opened one location in Guyana, have two locations under construction, and we plan to open five more franchises All of these franchises are our most popular, Convenient Seating configurations, with full range of Dixie Lee food fare products. We have a very large growth potential here and we work closely with our representatives to develop the rest of the Caribbean market for Dixie Lee as well. Besides South America and the Caribbean, we are also making strides in other world markets and we’re currently working on opening the first franchise in Kiev, Ukraine within the next eight months.”

Whether it’s in Canada or anywhere in the world, Dixie Lee ambassadors travel to the franchise’s destinations in support of development of the master franchise as well as the individual locations. The ambassadors also help franchisees to set up their restaurants according to the company brand requirements. The company delivers support throughout the whole process, from the location construction and layouts, to securing the equipment and training the franchisees and the staff. “It always represents a challenge to integrate Dixie Lee franchise systems and maintain the exact same franchise image around the world.

However, our results are seamless — it’s almost like walking into Canada, which is exactly what we are striving for,” says Murano.

Dixie Lee is on the verge of a major expansion in Canada as well as around the world, and may be coming to the neighbourhood near you. With more than 40 years in business, the franchise continues to offer its signature dishes to Canadians, constantly enhancing its menu in offering healthier alternatives in the food service industry, even adjusting its food offerings to local cultures to better serve local markets. Dixie Lee Chicken represents an original Canadian franchise striding into the global food service market.