Paul Vinyard, owner and founder of Babe’s Chicken Dinner House visited ACU bringing students a new perspective of entrepreneurship in the restaurant business, and gave advice to students hoping to pursue a career in the industry.
“We started the business in the family roots we grew up with,” said Vinyard. “Sitting at the park with everybody bringing the food and eating too much usually, and getting to spend time with aunts, uncles, and cousins. It’s hard to do that the way families are spread out today, so we wanted to provide a place to do that. So we serve the food, bring bowls, and let them pass the bowls around the table.”
In 1981, Vinyard and his wife Mary Beth opened Bubba’s, their first restaurant. Bubba’s was built in an old Texaco station in Dallas near SMU, and named after Vinyard’s longtime nickname.
“The fun and the excitement in putting all of your money into it and risking everything that you have, and having a family and a couple of kids, it’s pretty scary to do it,” Vinyard said. “At the same time, when the customers come in and like what you’ve done, it’s one of the most exciting things you can do.”
In 1993, the couple opened their second and most famous restaurant, Babe’s. Built in an old warehouse in Roanoke, the restaurant also took the name of a Vinyard family nickname, this time Mary Beth’s. She created the recipes for the country-cooking restaurant including the fried chicken, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and famous gravy. Today, Babe’s has expanded to nine locations in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, including restaurants in Sanger, Carrollton, Garland, Burleson, Granbury, Frisco, Cedar Hill, and Arlington.
“Babe’s Chicken Dinner House is a family dinner house, we call it the family table,” said Vinyard. “We really specialize in big families coming in and being seated around the table, a lot of time even three generations, which we really love.”
The third restaurant owned by the Vinyards is Sweetie Pie’s Ribeyes, named after another one of Mary Beth’s nicknames. This Decatur restaurant serves filet mignon and chicken fried rib eye, as well as hamburgers and much more.
Vinyard has always worked in the restaurant business, previously working with other companies such as Taco Bueno and El Chico before opening his own restaurants.
“I had dreams about managing a restaurant,” Vinyard said. “I have no idea where that came from, but I’ve always loved the restaurant business. I’m 70-years-old and I don’t want to do anything else. I love the business.”
Vinyard gave students valuable insight on how to be successful in the food business, as well as gave advice on how to be an entrepreneur in the restaurant industry.
“The primary thing you’ve got to do is enjoy the product or the service you’re going to perform. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t get close to it,” said Vinyard. “And then get some experience with somebody who’s already good at it. Secondly, you have to know the business from top to bottom.”
This Wednesday Mark Duncum, the president and owner of Double Creek Capital, Ltd., real estate company in Decatur will join us as the featured speaker. The lunch will take place in COBA room 318 from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. and will include free lunch for all CEO members.