Pigs were a new profit cen­ter for the Dick­son fam­ily busi­ness, but the work of run­ning a 150-​employee oper­a­tion took its toll, and they began look­ing for the exit — and a dra­matic life shakeup that would include mov­ing from Europe to North America.

A new lifestyle

Think­ing glob­ally about their busi­ness and its offer­ings, they real­ized pig roast­ing was far eas­ier and more enjoy­able than the upscale event cater­ing they’d done for years.

We were work­ing seven days a week own­ing hotels and restau­rants, we had three chil­dren.” They decided “let’s just sell every­thing, get out and have bet­ter qual­ity of life,” Anne said of the deci­sion to sell their com­pany, leave Scot­land and move to Canada.

Once they crossed the pond and set up roots in Ontario, Alan began design­ing his pro­pri­etary PigOut Roaster — a mas­sive rotis­serie pit on wheels. It was faster, more high tech, and much more attrac­tive to match the upscale pre­sen­ta­tion they intended to focus on with their new com­pany, PigOut Catering.

To avoid the pit­falls of run­ning a big com­pany again, they launched a cater­ing busi­ness to show­case Alan’s roaster while lay­ing the ground­work to build a fran­chise to com­bine their pro­pri­etary tech­nol­ogy with the upscale cus­tomer ser­vice and mar­ket­ing savvy honed through the years run­ning their busi­ness in the United Kingdom.

We very much didn’t want to have a big cater­ing com­pany again with 150 staff and vehi­cles,” Anne said. “We wanted to keep it small, so we made the deci­sion to fran­chise the concept.”

The birth of PigOut

More than just a pig roaster sweat­ing away out of sight at the events they cater, PigOut is bring­ing upscale ser­vice and pre­sen­ta­tion to one of the most casual forms of eat­ing cel­e­brated by cul­tures across the globe.

The menu goes beyond pork, often includ­ing bar­be­cue chicken, grilled veg­eta­bles and art­ful sal­ads, while the pre­sen­ta­tion is decid­edly upscale.

Details include pro­fes­sional chef jack­ets for the cooks, flow­ers, cloths and can­dles on the tables, and trucks with high-​quality PigOut signage.

Oper­a­tors are trained in cus­tomer ser­vice and directed to engage with curi­ous guests who want to see the meat cook­ing through the win­dows of Alan’s roaster, now the star of the PigOut presentation.

What they have devel­oped is the expe­ri­ence,” said Nel­son Diaz, one of its first fran­chisees in the Nia­gara Falls area. “The pre­sen­ta­tion of the food is very pro­fes­sional, every­thing is fresh and you can see every­thing is nat­ural, so that cre­ates the impact.”

Diaz dis­cov­ered PigOut shortly after his own inter­na­tional move, after he and his wife moved to Ontario from South Amer­ica. He signed on orig­i­nally expect­ing PigOut to be a side gig while he kept his full-​time job.

We thought it would be one or two func­tions every month or so, but to our sur­prise we had refer­rals and more refer­rals,” he said. “By the sec­ond year we had to go full time because we had a func­tion every week.”

Head­ing south

As the Dick­sons ramp up a new busi­ness after their great down­siz­ing three years ago, run­ning a grow­ing fran­chise remains much eas­ier than man­ag­ing a full-​time staff of 150+ employees.

Now up to seven oper­at­ing units in Canada, the cou­ple is plot­ting its next inter­na­tional move with plans to open fran­chises in the United States, par­tic­u­larly south­ern states with longer summers.

Barbecue-​friendly states like the Car­oli­nas, Florida and Texas are par­tic­u­larly prime areas for the brand, espe­cially areas with higher Latino pop­u­la­tions where pig roast­ing is a pop­u­lar cul­tural tradition.

Cook­ing expe­ri­ence isn’t a pre­req­ui­site, but the Dick­sons see hos­pi­tal­ity expats as their prime audi­ence for buy­ing fran­chises, as they offer own­ers the abil­ity to do what they love, inter­act with cus­tomers and have greater con­trol over their schedules.

Most peo­ple who work in hos­pi­tal­ity work longer hours than peo­ple who don’t,” Anne said. “In the restau­rant mar­ket you’re talk­ing about a min­i­mum entry point of like $500,000.”

For PigOut, that entry point is just over $100,000, which can be afford­able for a wider audi­ence than many other food-​based oppor­tu­ni­ties. “We know that peo­ple from cater­ing back­grounds aren’t afraid of hard work,” she said, adding that one chef-​turned-​franchisee liked the idea of hav­ing direct con­tact with the peo­ple he cooked for. “He’d been in hos­pi­tal­ity all his life and had never been thanked by the client.”