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Local Country Kitchen receives Persident's Award

The Dickinson Country Kitchen is one of the oldest in the franchise, serving its local customers for over 30 years. But with experience comes wisdom and the Dickinson outlet is still drawing attention from the top of the food chain.

The Dickinson Country Kitchen is one of the oldest in the franchise, serving its local customers for over 30 years. But with experience comes wisdom and the Dickinson outlet is still drawing attention from the top of the food chain.

"There are so many restaurants that come and go," manager and co-owner Marlo Nelson said. "We've been in this community for 30 years. We're one of those restaurants that you can come to and you know that you're going to have good food with good service."

The Dickinson restaurant received the President's Award at the Country Kitchen International Annual Convention. The award is presented to restaurants that demonstrate the highest standards of excellence in marketing, sales growth and operations.

"It's a very prestigious award," Country Kitchen Director of Education Bob Luling said. "Typically, there's only two given out each year. Being that we have 130 locations nationwide, it's very competitive and it says a lot about the restaurant that earns it."

The award was accepted by Nelson at the company's annual convention in the Wisconsin Dells.

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"We're proud to recognize Marlo Nelson for her achievement," Country Kitchen International CEO and President Charles Meyers said. "She exemplifies our high brand standards and commitment to guest satisfaction. Franchisees like Marlo help make Country Kitchen a quality fine dining restaurant."

Even with the growth the Dickinson area is experiencing, Country Kitchen continues to hold a strong presence in the community.

"Dickinson is an older location and Marlo works very hard," Luling added. "She's very much involved in her operation and has a very good staff. It amazes me how with the market in a smaller town like that, along with competition coming in, she still continues to keep growing."

And this isn't the first time the Dickinson Country Kitchen has received this award.

"I've been here for 30 years and have taken over management for the last seven and we have won it three times in the last seven years," Nelson said.

Nelson attributes the restaurant's success to three elements - the franchisor, the employees and the customers.

"Our franchise consultant comes twice a year and goes through all the different things with us and checks to see how things are going," Nelson said. "We are always above the standards that they set for us."

The company also really does its homework, she added.

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"They study the market, about what's going on and what people want, she said. "They're not stagnant. The menu changes twice a year with specials coming about four times a year. We always have something new to offer."

When it comes to her employees, Nelson couldn't be more proud.

"I believe we have the best employees in town," she said with a smile. "The majority of our employees have been with us for more than 15 years. To have employee retention like that, especially in food service, says a lot about the type of place this is."

Country Kitchen employs about 35 people and from the veterans to the new recruits, Nelson says developing a relationship with each one is important.

"Our personnel, we've been together so long, it's like we're a big family," she added. "The award doesn't just belong to me or even the restaurant. The employees definitely share in it because you cannot run a good business without good employees from front to back."

The third element Nelson attributes to Country Kitchen's success is the customers.

"We also have the best customers in town," she said. "And we know almost everybody that comes in here and we treat them like family."

From corporate to the customers and the employees that make it run, Nelson is proud to manage a business where people can come and know they're going to have a good experience.

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