Michael Dolan of Nassau County, a former Wall Street equity sales trader, is working on opening his own fast-casual barbecue restaurant in Forest Hills by the end of this year.
After working in the corporate world for the past 14 years at a brokerage firm, Dolan is planning to open Mighty Quinn’s BBQ at 108-22 Queens Blvd. after signing a multi-unit agreement with the NYC-based brand.
“Entrepreneurship is something that I’ve always been enamored by and working in the corporate world for a long time, having something that I could call my own is what I have longed for, and this is a great opportunity that fell into my lap,” Dolan said.
Dolan was first introduced to Mighty Quinn’s in the East Village in Manhattan. While living just two blocks from the restaurant, he would visit the site — one of seven in the NYC area — once a week for its all-natural meats and poultry, seasoned with perfect spice blends and wood-smoked.
“I was there basically when they opened in the beginning of 2013, when the lines were out of the door and received rave reviews from The New York Times,” Dolan said.
Several years later, when Mighty Quinn’s announced its franchise opportunity, Dolan said he decided to quit his office job to become a franchise owner. His plans came to a halt when COVID-19 hit, but now he’s officially bringing the concept to Queens residents.
“I was looking for something that was more protein vegetable-based as opposed to pizza, burgers and fries, and I do believe that’s the future of a fast-casual diner and what the customer wants,” Dolan said. “That’s how I stumbled upon Mighty Quinn’s — I loved them and I knew the brand well, and in terms of business, I was looking for something that had brand equity in the New York area, something that New Yorkers know and love.”
Mighty Quinn’s is the first authentic barbecue experience in a fast casual setting and winner of the 2013 Zagat award for best new restaurant in New York. Defining urban barbecue, Mighty Quinn’s BBQ is the merging of two great barbecue traditions: Texas and the Carolinas.
As a brand, Mighty Quinn’s was first introduced in 2011, when co-founder and pitmaster Hugh Mangum smoked brisket and pulled pork out of a mobile smoker hitched to his pickup truck in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Deciding to expand beyond the mobile offering, which regularly resulted in a 40-person line that continued to grow until Mangum ran out of product, Mangum joined forces with his step-brother, Micha Magid, and Micha’s brother-in-law, Christos Gourmos, to open the first brick-and-mortar Mighty Quinn’s restaurant in the East Village.
Since the brand’s inception, the three partners have opened nine corporate-owned locations, a restaurant at Yankee Stadium, two locations in Madison Square Garden and one international franchised restaurant.
Now, with strong operations and a growing fan base, the brand wants to push growth forward through franchising.
For Dolan, Mighty Quinn’s had checked a lot of boxes — from its chef-inspired meals served in a fast-casual format and the management and corporate team’s efforts to grow the business, making it more scalable, he said.
According to Dolan, he searched extensively throughout Queens for a location to open his franchise. After some time, he decided to settle in Forest Hills on the corner of Queens Boulevard and 71st Road.
“It’s a great footprint. It’s very close to the subway station and Austin Street. I think it’s going to be well received by Forest Hills consumers and all of Queens,” Dolan said. “I liked the foot traffic on Austin Street and Queens Boulevard, which is a major thoroughfare within Queens, and it’s a great neighborhood feel that’s very vibrant and full of life.”
Dolan’s plans for his franchise will be similar to that of Mighty Quinn’s in Manhattan, he said.
“There will be great brisket, brontosaurus ribs, pork spare ribs, along with the traditional sides of Brussels sprouts, mac ‘n’ cheese, and sweet potato casserole – all of the great things you’ll find at Mighty Quinn’s in Manhattan,” Dolan said.
From a decor perspective, according to Dolan, the venue will have reclaimed wood and Edison light bulbs that have made Mighty Quinn’s so popular in Manhattan. The spot will also have a full bar, which is not typical of a traditional Mighty Quinn’s.
While construction is ongoing at the site, Dolan says they’re hoping to be open by the end of the year.
Looking forward, Dolan says he hopes to expand his franchise in the near future.
“While Mighty Quinn’s has been growing significantly nationwide, my plan is to open up four locations in Queens within the next couple of years, under the assumption that everything goes well in Forest Hills,” Dolan said.