There Really is a McDougal!
It’s true, there is a real McDougal person, and his name is Tommy McDougal. He’s not a fictitious corporate marketing gimmick that some intern rolled out. He’s an “average Joe” with a huge heart and passion for chicken.
How Did Things Begin?
People are always asking how and when did this restaurant business get started? Let’s go back in time (not too far back) to when Tommy was a youngster.
Born and raised in Nashville, even at a young age, Tommy had a taste for entrepreneurship. He and his brothers would set up lemonade stands in their front yard on those hot summer days in Nashville. He enjoyed serving a delicious product, developing repeat customers, and of course, pocketing a few quarters along the way.
While in High School, Tommy worked in a few restaurants, often washing dishes, mopping floors and prepping food. He didn’t just do the work, he learned the business and began dreaming of opening his own restaurant some day. The dreaming continued into college.
In 1998, Tommy helped manage a restaurant that served chicken while attending the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Intrigued by people’s love of chicken fingers, Tommy began hatching a plan. He decided he wanted to open his first chicken restaurant in Nashville, where he grew up. He spent the next several years of college, fine-tuning his recipes and his business plan.
Finally Bringing it Back Home
After college, Tommy graduated and returned home to Nashville with the help of his mom, his primary investor and chief encourager, Tommy’s dream was quickly becoming a reality. With very little capital and no idea how to actually run a business, he set out to open his first restaurant at the age of 24.
He signed a lease at an old, small 1,000 sq. ft. house at the footsteps of Vanderbilt University in the Hillsboro Village district. With his two brothers by his side, he gutted the old house and set about hammering out a friendly, funky chicken eatery with wall-to-wall personality.
If You Build it They Will Eat Chicken
After several long months of hard work on a wing and a prayer, the first restaurant opened on Jan. 9, 2004. Tommy was working 7 days a week, putting in more than 100 hours while living upstairs at the restaurant. Family help was crucial in the beginning just to stay open.
Business neighbors, friends and family were the first to come in and try the place out. It was unanimous — they all loved the chicken and cold beer. Looking back, the funny thing was that they didn’t officially have a real name for the restaurant. No signage out front or even an “open” or “closed” sign. If the Christmas lights were on, they were open. If the lights were off, they were closed.
It took some time before the public discovered the small chicken coop, hidden back on Belcourt Ave. However, the many long hours of hard work and dedication toward our food quality, great service and great employees finally paid off. After about a year or so, Tommy decided that McDougal’s would be the official name of his restaurant.
With no real advertising in the beginning, word-of-mouth took off over the next few years and McDougal’s finally gained a solid reputation. Today, it has evolved into a very busy, casual neighborhood gathering spot, serving delicious, fresh, made-to-order chicken meals and ice cold beer for an eclectic mix of students, families, business people, young professionals, artists, and musicians.
Our Business Formula is Simple
Serve out-of-this-world chicken that’s never cooked before an order is placed. The secret to our famous chicken fingers and wings is they are truly fresh and never frozen, marinated and cooked to order any way you like it. We hand-cut the best potatoes each morning for our french fries and make guests feel so welcomed that McDougal’s becomes their second home. Last but not least, treat all employees as family so they’re proud of making superior food and delivering over-the-top guest service.
Thanks to all our great customers for making McDougal’s such a huge success! Without you, we don’t have a job. McDougal’s wouldn’t be here today and be such a great success story without the help, hard work, and dedication of our great team members.