The Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday, a movement that has been inspiring people to support small businesses across the country for the last three years. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this nationally recognized day is dedicated to giving back to the people and places that have given their communities so much. In honor of Small Business Saturday, we’d like to share a little bit of our history and recognize the hardworking franchise owners in your communities.
Dream Dinners evolved from the homegrown practice of co-founder Stephanie Allen, a working mother who had been making fix-and-freeze meals for her family. Stephanie enlisted the help of long-time friend Tina Kuna and, together, they hosted the first series of meal assembly sessions in March 2002. Three months later, they opened the first Dream Dinners store and by early 2003, they had received national media attention as well as thousands of unsolicited franchise inquiries from potential owners across the country. By the end of 2003, Stephanie and Tina had signed 35 new franchises. Now, Dream Dinners has assembly stores representing all regions of the country.
Here, Tina and Stephanie share a few memorable moments from the very beginning:
“The first few months before we had our own location, we would haul all of our food into a catering kitchen that we rented by the evening. There was no refrigeration and we would set up stations around the kitchen on long counters. At the end of the evening, we would have to wash each dish by hand (no dishwasher) and then haul all the food back to a warehouse where we had stored a few freezers. We’d crawl into bed at about 2 a.m., then get back up at 6 a.m. and start the day all over again.”
“For the first year or so, our website did not capture customer orders. We would take their reservation and menu order over the phone or by email. Our scheduling calendar was a big refrigerator box with time slots and names written in it. When we switched from the cardboard sign up to our first web site sign up we forgot to transfer the paper sign ups so we had a Saturday session with double the guests… 24 people showed up to make their dinners! We stood on a barstool, apologized and asked everyone to be patient and they were great, they all helped each other!”
All of our franchise owners have stories like these that show their dedication to making life easier for others and helping families connect around the dinner table. This Saturday, we encourage you to shop small and let your local store owners know how much you appreciate all their hard work.