The Untold Truth Of Dick's Last Resort

Dick's Last Resort is truly one of a kind, with an edgy concept that seems outrageously counterintuitive. The servers at this restaurant make it their mission to disrespect and degrade diners in all kinds of imaginative ways, purely for the sake of comedy. Indeed, Dick's Last Resort feels like a parallel universe where everything we understand about ethics and civilized behavior is turned upside down. Any expectation of good manners and social niceties is replaced with a joyous embrace of everyone's worst nightmare: public humiliation. It's all in good fun, though — and the experience can even be cathartic, serving as a reminder to laugh a little more and not to take oneself too seriously.

Even though Dick's Last Resort has been around since 1985, it's still a relatively small operation with only 12 locations. And despite its penchant for conjuring up raunchy and hilarious insults, the kitchen still pumps out some surprisingly delicious grub from its wide-ranging menu. Bone-in pork chops, grilled salmon, bacon cheddar cheeseburgers, and all kinds of classic American fare grace its comically crass menu loaded with sexual innuendos. Considering the restaurant's risqué brand of comedy, you probably have a lot of questions about how this company operates. Here's the untold truth of Dick's Last Resort.

Brace yourself for some public humiliation

Anyone who's particularly sensitive and self-conscious might be biting off more than they can chew when they dine at Dick's Last Resort. Between the abrasive sarcasm, derogatory banter, and sexually-charged atmosphere, there's no doubt that the restaurant's concept works best on people with thick skin and a flexible sense of humor who can tolerate a healthy dose of self-deprecation. For example, one of Dick's tricks to get everyone in a playful mood is to encourage diners to wear absurd paper headpieces that perch phallically upward like a perverse, dilapidated chef's hat.

The gag doesn't stop there; each hat has a personalized insult scrawled on it by a server. Some legendary zingers include lines like "Been on more wieners than ketchup" and "Easier than community college." As if that weren't enough, diners are also coaxed into strapping on a giant bib. You won't find any napkins on the tables but there's a good chance that your server will contemptuously throw some at you if you request them (via Vacation Myrtle Beach). The bottom line is that Dick's has a sense of humor that isn't for the faint of heart, so if you happen to be tagging along, it's better to let loose, enjoy the ride, and embrace your inner glutton for punishment.

Dick is based on the company's founder

At this point, you're probably wondering if Dick is a real person. As it turns out, the company character is loosely based on the restaurant's founder, Richard Chase (via D Magazine). Yep, that's right — the oafish, dead-eyed party animal on all of the company's merchandise was inspired by the very same man who dreamed up the entire concept. In fact, Chase once said that he wanted Dick's Last Resort to embody the energy of every dive bar he'd ever been drunk at.

In some ways, the last resort aspect of the restaurant's name also feels reflective of the founder. Before Chase opened up Dick's Last Resort, he was a producer and filmmaker, having worked on a handful of films that never garnered much success or acclaim. One of Chase's films, "Hells Angels Forever," was partly produced by legendary Grateful Dead vocalist and frontman Jerry Garcia (via TV Guide). Between Chase's appreciation for dive bars along with his connections to biker clubs and rockstars, it's easy to see where the company's fascination with cultivating a wild atmosphere comes from.

There's an epic food challenge

Of course, a provocative restaurant like Dick's that thrives on creating a spectacle has an epic food challenge. After all, there's nothing more laughably obscene than watching a full-grown adult gleefully scarf down a mountain of food like a malnourished wild animal. Here's the deal: If you can finish every last bite of food on your plate in an hour, then your meal is on the house. But how much food are we talking about?

Dick's big meat challenge is one monster of a feast. This jumbo-sized banquet is enough to strike fear in the hearts of even the hungriest and most formidable of competitors. With two large fire-grilled steaks, a 12-inch wiener, loaded chili cheese nachos, a house salad, and double portions of broccoli and loaded mashed potatoes, Dick's big meat challenge is sure to leave you painfully stuffed. Just remember that if you end up kicking the bucket in the process, someone else at your table still has to pay the bill.

It holds a shirtless dad bod contest

We all have different ways of celebrating Father's Day. For most of us, honoring the man who helped bring us into this world doesn't typically involve a shirtless contest on stage. Of course, Dick's Last Resort is happy to playfully turn a family holiday upside down and have some fun with it (via M Live).

To celebrate fatherhood this year, Dick's Last Resort decided to throw a shirtless dad bod contest at its restaurants. While we aren't exactly sure about the criteria used to judge the event, we assume that whoever's body looked most dad-like took home the $200 prize. While a dad body contest might seem a little lewd or tacky on the surface, we happen to think bringing some more body positivity into the world is a beautiful thing. 

But if you happen to be a father and stripping in front of a bunch of strangers doesn't appeal to you, Dick's still has your back with a sweet deal: a free meal! What better way to let dads around the world feel appreciated than by filling up their bellies with some crispy chicken wings or other menu favorites?

It has its own TV channel

A little over a decade ago, Dick's Last Resort decided to take its antics a step further. The company wanted to give diners a way to watch all of the fun going down in other locations across the country, and what better way than with its own TV channel? The final product was "Dick's TV," which shows three rotating segments on at least one screen at each location (via Restaurant Business Online).

These programs include "Real World Dick's," which captures genuine interactions between servers and diners and provides a glimpse into each location's unique atmosphere. Meanwhile, "Dick's Quickies," features animated cartoons of the brand's character that showcase his party animal lifestyle. The other program centers on promoting local music since Dick's Last Resort gives live bands a space to play occasional shows. 

To create a more interactive feel, diners can also share pictures directly to the television screens in the restaurant, which are then displayed at every location across the country. One thing's for sure — Dick's Last Resort doesn't just want to make sure you're having a blast, it also wants to make sure other people can watch the fun unfold.

It offers special party packages

If you're looking for an unconventional way to celebrate a special occasion, don't forget about Dick's Last Resort. With all the wild bashes the venues like to throw, it's no wonder the unruly restaurant has some special party packages available. Whether you're looking to celebrate your birthday or throw a bachelorette party, Dick's has got you covered.

The birthday package costs about $30 per guest and includes drinks as well as a choice from a list of appetizers and entrees. For starters, you can pick the spinach kale artichoke dip or fried pickles. As for the entree, you can select from seven different dishes, like Nashville hot chicken, a pulled pork sandwich with Carolina barbecue sauce and coleslaw, and macaroni and cheese

The bachelorette party package costs the same as the birthday package and offers a similar menu. As an added special, it comes with a complimentary bottle of Champagne for the table. Both deals also come with other freebies, like a free shot and a Dick's Last Resort t-shirt to commemorate the occasion. All things considered, there's no doubt that a night out at Dick's is sure to be a blast.

It hosts all kinds of special events

When it comes to special events, Dick's Last Resort has a lot to offer. The restaurant regularly organizes parties for obscure holidays, like Christmas in July, a fun tradition that can be traced back to a North Carolina summer camp in 1933 (via Country Living). The event has grown increasingly popular over the years, and Dick's is smartly capitalizing on that trend by providing more space for patrons to enjoy a warm and sunny round of "Jingle Bell Rock" by the Christmas tree. There's a prize too: The tackiest Christmas outfit wins $100 in Dick's dollars to spend at the restaurant (via Dick's Last Resort).

As it turns out, Dick's is searching the sky for more than just Santa Claus. The restaurant also throws a big party for world UFO day, which falls on the anniversary of the infamous crash in Roswell, Mexico (via History). If you wear the best alien or space-themed costume to the restaurant on this quirky holiday, there's a chance you could win another prize of $100 in Dick's dollars. Think of all the grub you could score with that: BBQ ribs, Nashville hot chicken, and all kinds of freshly grilled dishes from the menu. We can't help but wonder what life outside our galaxy would think if it looked down at Dick's and saw some of the shenanigans going on there.

The jokes have limits

With all of the suggestive jokes and open mockery that goes down at Dick's Last Resort, you might be wondering if there are limits to what the servers can say. Is it a total free-for-all, or are there some ground rules? Is nothing sacred, or are some topics totally off limits for workers?

The truth is that out of some basic respect for diners, there are certain boundaries as to what servers are allowed to joke about (via Restaurant Business Online). When it comes to race, religion, and gender or gender identity, none of those topics are to be referenced or joked about. Vulgar language is also prohibited. But that still leaves plenty of material to work with and poke fun at. 

In fact, servers go through online training and have weekly meetings to learn the logistics of how to walk the line of being funny without going too far. According to former CEO Mark Buehler, guests tend to fall into one of three categories: those who like to engage, those who just want to watch, and others who just want to eat without the comedic commentary. Every server is trained to read the room to identify the types of customers and adjust their approach accordingly.

It dealt with legal troubles early on

Anyone who's ever owned a business knows that there are all kinds of unpredictable challenges along the path — and Dick's Last Resort experienced that pretty much right off the bat. After only one year of being in business, the company found itself tangled up in some legal troubles with its initial investors. According to D Magazine, the investors filed a lawsuit against founder Richard Chase, much to his surprise.

The investors claimed that Chase had withdrawn hundreds of thousands of dollars from the restaurant and spent it on personal items. While Chase claimed that their business arrangement gave him the authority to make cash withdrawals, the investors said they needed to protect their financial assets from being depleted. Later that month, those same investors filed another lawsuit against Chase for trade infringement. In this instance, the case was initiated because the investors claimed that Chase transferred some of his concepts from Dick's Last Resort to different projects. As a result, for a period of time, a court order actually barred Chase from entering some of the restaurants that he'd created.

The brand got a makeover in 2018

Every brand needs an update from time to time and Dick's Last Resort is no different. In fact, according to QSR magazine, reevaluating and retooling a restaurant's design can lead to a stronger brand and greater efficiency. In 2018, the company decided to bring some refreshing changes to the business in an effort to revitalize the brand.

One of the novelties included a different menu that was partly developed by culinary professional Mike Hufler (via FSR Magazine). With a refocused effort on freshness, some of the items included a grilled 12-ounce sirloin steak and a grilled salmon filet. Aside from the new food items, the company also updated its logo, brought in some new artwork to grace the walls, and revamped its website and social media accounts. Apparently, the changes have been successful, leading to improvements in quality and value for customers. It just goes to show that even a restaurant with a unique concept like Dick's Last Resort can benefit from a little change sometimes.

The company got sued by the Mall of America

The COVID-19 pandemic upended much of the workforce, notably the restaurant industry. According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, the Mall of America closed down for a few months at the beginning of the pandemic. Consequently, Dick's Last Resort location on-site endured some serious financial losses during that period. Even though the mall reopened in June 2020, Dick's abandoned the space in October of that year and stopped paying rent.

The case played out in Hennepin County Court, and the judge ultimately ruled in favor of the Mall of America. Dick's Last Resort was ordered to pay the shopping center nearly $700,000 in back rent from the company's broken lease agreement with the mall. Ouch — that's gotta hurt! By our calculations, that kind of cash could buy about 30,000 Big Dick Super Margaritas that come in a 45-ounce "fun bowl." Unfortunately, it looks like Dick's wasn't alone in its loss against the mall, and plenty of other vendors were ordered to pay back millions of dollars to the shopping center.

The restaurant has been closing locations

Every business has its ups and downs, but the pandemic definitely accelerated the struggles and uncertainty that restaurants often face. According to Forbes, the initial lockdown paralyzed restaurants in the industry. For many businesses, the aftershocks from that period of loss persist. But in recent years, even before the pandemic hit, Dick's Last Resort was closing some of its locations around the country.

In 2016, after operating for a couple of years, Dick's decided to permanently close the doors at its Kentucky location in Newport on the Levee (via Cincinnati Business Courier). That same year, Dick's abruptly closed up shop at its Orlando location (much to the surprise of its staff), as well as its establishment in Columbus, Ohio. Just a few years later, Dick's ended up closing shop in downtown Baltimore, with a representative from the company blaming the closure on "a complete hellhole dumpster fire of violence and danger" in the area (via Baltimore Sun). More closures followed suit in 2020, with another one of Dick's spots shutting its doors at Boston's Quincy Market

So, what does this mean for Dick's Last Resort? We can only speculate, but closing down a bunch of locations in the span of just a few years isn't exactly encouraging news. There's no reason to lose all hope, though. Dick's still has a dozen locations around the country, including a recently opened restaurant in Saginaw, Michigan.