Although Dallas houses the headquarters of many national and international companies, it is also home to the origin of ideas upon which many companies were founded. In a few cases, the first of the long line of stores or restaurants started right here in Dallas, setting the standard for their descendants.
This southern-style restaurant was founded by Gene Street, a Dallas resident and restauranteur. He opened the first location in Oak Lawn, and it still remains open to this day. This original is one of 3 in Dallas and 29 in the great state of Texas. Dixie House, located in Lakewood (East Dallas), is run under the same management, Restaurants Acquisition I, headquartered in Houston.
This company oversees 4 great chain restaurants: Chili’s Grill, Macaroni Grill, Maggiano’s Little Italy and On The Border. The first Chili’s Grill opened on March 13, 1975, by Larry Levine, who in 1967 first hatched the idea to spread the tastes of his local chili cook-offs with other people. In 1983, Norman Brinker then bought the 23 locations of the Chili’s restaurant chain that were scattered about 6 states. In November 1989, Brinker International, then under the name of Chili’s Inc., acquires Romano’s Macaroni Grill. In 1994, Brinker completed his package by purchasing the title to the On the Border chain.
Cookies by Design
Today, this company is one of the largest gourmet cookie retailers in the US. It took its start when Plano founder Ms. Gwen Willhite combine two popular gift ideas, flowers and cookies, into one gift, the cookie bouquet. She started the business in Oklahoma, but the business really kicked off when she moved her company to Dallas. She notes that Dallas is where her success really began, when people began asking for more locations around the country. The company has expanded to 34 states across the country, offering it delicious selection of cookies to millions of customers for all to enjoy and send to loved ones.
Dave & Buster’s
The idea was originally hatched in Little Rock, Ark. when two locations existed next door to each other but based on separate marketing concepts. A man by the name of Dave owned an entertainment dojo while his neighbor Buster managed an elegant restaurant. The two owners found that patrons would go to both locations. That’s when they hatched the idea to work together; however, there was no available real-estate in Little Rock at the time. Instead, they came to Dallas to create the first Dave & Buster’s, which opened in December of 1982. Since then, D&B has expanded to multiple locations across the US and into Canada, with one location currently being built in Hollywood, which should attract many patrons.
Franchise owner Travis Dickey sought to perfect Texas-style barbecue and spread the tastes of meats and barbecue sauces and spices with other people, first beginning in Dallas. Travis’s sons, Roland and T.D continued their father’s tradition starting in 1967 where the restaurant chain soon became a staple in North Texas. Today, the franchise is owned by a third generation of the family, Roland Dickey, Jr where he manages the restaurants such that they behave just like they did when his grandfather owned them years ago.
This fashion designer and manufacturing company received its start from Texas A&M University dropout and Dallas resident Mr. Tom Kartsotis as a second shot at life. He received the idea from his older brother Kosta who told Tom about the amazing profits that could be earned from importing Far Eastern goods. Tom traveled to Hong Kong where he hired a watch manufacturer to produce 1500 watches which Tom then sold in the United States. Upon returning to the States, Tom hired and worked with a friend to produce and sell watches that targeted younger upper- and middle-class consumers. The watches provided a gateway for Fossil to enter a more profitable era. Sales leapt from $2 million to $20 million in the span of two years. Sales have increased over time and Fossil has expanded its product line to glasses, clothing, and accessories.
GameStop traces its origins to a small electronics retail store in Dallas called Babbage’s. However, a long line of mergers had to occur before Babbage’s would successfully transform into the buy-and-sell gaming empire known as GameStop. Over the past 5 years, GameStop has expanded its product network by acquiring smaller companies and adding rewards to entice and attract more customers.
Half Price Books
This idea for a great warehouse of books, movies, music, and games spawned when cofounders Ms. Pat Anderson and Mr. Ken Gjemre wanted to offer great products at awesome prices. This philosophy continues today under Pat’s daughter, Sharon Anderson. Whether the books are new, used, bestsellers or kid’s books, their inventory amalgamates to become a wide selection of terrific products, all available at half or less the publishers’ original prices. Today, Half Price Books has spread to 16 states with some more recent locations in Chicago, Oklahoma City and Omaha, Neb.
Michaels Arts and Crafts
In the 1960s, the Dupey family owned a company called Dupey Enterprises which was the foundation for the Michaels stores across the country. The arts and crafts stores were doing okay under the Dupey family’s control, but the ball really started rolling when the Wyly brothers, who owned People’s Restaurants Inc., bought the chain, which at the point was mainly in Texas, in 1983. Since then, the craft store has switch hands and expanded to over 450 locations across the country.
The first store opened September 10, 1907, at Elm and Murphy Streets in Dallas by founders Herbert Marcus, Sr., his sister Carrie Marcus Nieman and her husband A.L. Nieman. A 1913 fire destroys the original store, which is then rebuilt at Main and Ervay Streets, where the flagship store remains today. In 1965, the family opens its second store at Northpark mall, almost 60 years after the original opened its doors.
Although it has Italian roots, the gelato cafe emerged as a Dallas idea. Cristiana Ginatta, an Italy native, was accustomed to the myriad of flavors she found as she traveled across Italy. When she and her family moved to Dallas, she sought to share the Old World flavors with her new home. In so doing, “messy concoctions,” the literal translation of Pacuigo, spread across the Dallas metroplex and across North America as well. Pacuigo has spread to 10 states across the nation yet still maintains its headquarters in west Dallas despite its wide expansion.
The Southland Ice Company, as Seven-Eleven was originally known at is conception, was founded in Oak Cliff. Its stores were called Tote’em, where customers could carry out their own groceries from the stores. The name changed to Seven-Eleven in 1946 because the stores were opened from 7am-11pm all week long. The overarching company finally changed the name 55 years later to Seven Eleven Inc. in 1999. Today, there are more than 50,000 locations across the globe all across North America and Asia, Europe, Australia a couple locations in the United Arab Emirates.
The Container Store
On July 1, 1978, the first container store began its career in Dallas. Mr. Kip Tindell (CEO and Chairman), Garrett Boone (Chairman Emeritus) and Architect John Mullen opened the store knowing that it would be a great place for customers to come a buy organizing materials. At that point in time, few, if any other retailers sold such an extravagant supply of not only containers, but other office supplies and organizational objects. Today, the warehouse-like stores serve millions of people across the country selling them more than 10,000 innovative products to help them save space and ultimately time.