• How Dennis Thompson is building an empire in Charlotte's restaurant industry

    By: Jennifer Thomas, Charlotte Business Journal


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Dennis Thompson has invested millions — and brought partners to the table — to develop restaurant concepts across the country over almost five decades.

    [Charlotte hot spot lands on best burgers in US list]

    He jumped at a chance to launch Godfather’s Pizza in North Carolina in 1972. He had been in the real estate business in Wichita, Kansas, at the time, working with restaurant chains. 

    He went on to found Lone Star Steakhouse, was an original owner in Fox & Hound Bar and Grill and followed up on that success by founding Firebirds Wood Fired Grill in 2000. He and Charlotte restaurateur Frank Scibelli teamed up on Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, which they sold for $21 million in 2015.

    Now, he’s helping build local concepts such as Viva Chicken and The Waterman in South End.

    As a developer, Thompson has invested his own money — and lined up investors to help buoy the bottom line — at fledgling ventures. He spends time scouting locations, helps with design and even tests menu items. He’s often tapped as chairman of the board, providing insight to a company’s top officials.

    “Mostly, it’s a guidance level that I’m involved in rather than a day-to-day level,” he says. 

    Thompson recently spoke with the Charlotte Business Journal about his role in the restaurant industry.

    Read that interview here.

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