What do you get when you put an unused deli counter, one man’s dream, and an early retirement together? Tipsy Pig BBQ.
Tipsy Pig BBQ, only six years old and nestled between Brookwood and Parkview High School communities, has truly made a name for itself in the Gwinnett area. Originally started as an additional means of income and a way to get back on their feet financially, husband and wife team, Terry and Dale Lee, quickly realized that people really liked their fresh, quality, homemade, southern comfort food!
The idea to start a BBQ shop began taking shape when Dale retired early from DeKalb County Public Schools. This coincided with Terry’s employer, Famous Daves BBQ, deciding to leave the Atlanta area. Both avid cooks, Terry and Dale came up with the idea to sell BBQ on the side to make a little extra money.
“Terry noticed this little deli counter inside the Shell service station that nobody was using. He asked the owner if he could sell some BBQ there a few days a week,” Dale says. “When the Shell station owner agreed, we were thrilled at the opportunity. It was just the two of us at first, but then it got busier and business boomed.”
The agreement with the Shell station was simple; Terry and Dale agreed to pay a percentage of their profits, if there even was a profit, back to the Shell station owner. Terry and Dale estimated that it would take six months to a year to really start making a profit from their brand new business. Much to their surprise, the business quickly became a huge success and they were soon renegotiating their contract with the owners.
One reason for Tipsy Pig’s rapid growth came primarily from community support. In less than a year after opening, they were invited to participate in the Taste of Brookwood, an annual fundraiser showcasing local restaurants in the Brookwood High School Area.
“We had no idea what the Taste of Bookwood was all about. But after we participated, our business really took off. The people in the community really started coming in then,” Dale says. “We still support the local schools and churches. We’ve kind of gotten to the point where we get asked to do so much that we have to limit what we do.”
As the business evolved, so did Terry and Dale. They knew that customer service had to be their top priority. Customer happiness is very important to them, so they listen! They have taste tests to see what their customers like and dislike, and added Brunswick Stew to their menu after it had been requested by many customers.
“We tell our employees that food quality and customer service are number one. Both have to be consistent day in and day out to be successful in the restaurant business,” Dale says. “When we first opened, Terry had his own recipe for coleslaw and I had mine. I wanted to serve mine and he wanted to serve his. So we did a customer taste test and his coleslaw won. The coleslaw taste test was fun, but also ensured that Terry and Dale were focusing on customer satisfaction.”
Even with all the growth and community support, Terry and Dale choose to stay at their deli counter in the Shell gas station. Customers ask Terry and Dale if they’ll ever move.
“The overhead isn’t quite as high as a standalone restaurant, and we really like the little system we have,” Dale says. “And we like being part of the community. That’s another reason why we don’t want to find another place. We really like the community that we’re in.”
Today, business is booming, and Dale says, “Terry is living his dream.”
Tipsy Pig offers a variety of BBQ favorites like pulled pork, smoked chicken, and ribs. Traditional sides like collard greens and macaroni and cheese accompany these BBQ favorites.
To find a menu, hours of operation and more, go to tipsypigbbq.com.