Our Story

What’s Inside Matters Most

Our business is to feed people so they can get back to their busy days with renewed energy and a friendly smile. That’s why you’ll find no harmful additives here, just real ingredients and an inviting atmosphere every time you enter a Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe. We believe that what’s inside matters most, and for us, that’s clean as possible ingredients prepared fresh daily. Our customers know we provide a wholesome, flavorful meal—and that’s what keeps them coming back.

Quality Recipes + Proven Business Model = A Smart Franchise Investment 

Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe is a local fan-favorite in the Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) industry for our freshly made sandwiches, salads, soups, and pizzas. Founded in 2005 in Columbia, Missouri, we have since grown to 30 locations across Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Nebraska, and Texas. Pickleman’s is the go-to destination for people who want to enjoy high-quality food in a casual and comfortable environment.

Pickleman’s has a simple process for operating: Provide high-quality food choices for all lifestyles. No gimmicks or false promises here, just really good food served by a friendly team. Unlike other fast food chains, you can confidently eat from our menu daily, just like you would from your own kitchen.

A Whole Lotta Love Is Our Core Value

At Pickleman’s, we believe in supporting the local community. Our top marketing objective follows the grassroots engagement model: 

  1. Get to know the people in your neighborhood. 
  2. Invite them over for a meal. 
  3. Let the food speak for itself.  

We also participate in profit shares with local schools, support local charities, sponsor underfunded community groups, and encourage our Pickleman’s franchise owners to do the same—because sharing with a neighbor in need creates a deeper brand awareness. 

Meet Our Founder

Douglas Stritzel—founder and owner of Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe—developed a love for food and an entrepreneurial mindset at an early age. 

Doug worked as the Chief Operating Officer in the QSR field with Jimmy John’s and Ritter’s Frozen Custard. During his tenure, he developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) in training and development, marketing, and all operating systems and procedures. After spending nine years running franchise organizations, he took a position as an Operating Partner for a franchisee of Tim Horton’s and Wendy’s that gave him firsthand knowledge and experience of a franchisee within a legacy brand. During his tenure, not only was he able to learn the inner workings of the legacy brands, he was also able to create a franchisee business scorecard that improved the DMA, adherence and implementation of new Wendy’s initiatives, and many measurable and desired attributes which was embraced and implemented in 2003 in the Detroit DMA by its Divisional Vice President and later endorsed by the Midwest Regions Senior Vice President. After 15 years of executive-level experience and a track record of success on both the franchisor and franchisee sides for four distinct brands, Doug set out to build his own unique concept. 

“I believed that I could build a successful franchise system based on my own values, experiences, and passion for great tasting healthy food that put quality first, needed no sales gimmicks, with less harmful processed food,” said Doug.

His vision was to create a national franchise brand that offered a gourmet menu with an operating system that could produce higher quality food to order with high throughput potential. Stritzel planned to utilize his own flavor profiles to build made from scratch recipes, giving the brand unique menu options and an artisanal flare. Doug said, “To build a successful brand, you need to consider 50 or more attributes, it’s truly complicated, however for some reason it seemed to come easy for me. The ambiance had to be a warm, cozy, and casual atmosphere with inviting music and relevant art for the particular area where the individual stores would reside.”

Today, in many places Pickleman’s sandwiches are legendary. They start with our proprietary artisanal roll, high quality whole muscle deli meats, No Antibiotic Ever (NAE) grilled chicken and pulled pork, freshly sliced produce, and homemade sauces. Our salads are made with a bed of romaine lettuce that is chopped fresh daily and given an ice bath with a zest of lemon to achieve a clean profile when hitting your palette. The robust menu also offers our proprietary tomato basil bisque, thin and crispy tavern-style gourmet pizzas, five unique mac and cheese bowls, and made from scratch chocolate chip cookies.

Our raving fans know that Pickleman’s is more than just a place to get a great sandwich. It’s a gathering spot where people come together to share a meal, chat with friends, celebrate achievements, or just relax in a cozy atmosphere. The community enjoys Big Dill, our brand’s mascot, who is regularly invited to birthday parties and attends community events.

In 2005 Stritzel opened the first Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe in Columbia, Missouri, which quickly became popular among students, locals, and tourists. In 2007 he completed his franchise disclosure documents and officially registered as a franchise company, which lead to the first franchise sale in 2009. Today, there are 30 locations in seven states across the Midwest and has active development agreements in Indiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, as well as Texas, which will increase the brand’s presence to seven states.

In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, Doug is also a philanthropist who believes in giving back to his community and teaching others how to succeed in business. He’s often invited to speak at universities and business events, where he shares his insights and experiences on starting and running a successful business. As an advocate for sustainable business practices, he believes in creating a better future for future generations.

Connect with Doug on LinkedIn

Connect with Pickleman’s on LinkedIn

Stop By A Pickleman’s Location For Everything You Need To Know 

Over the years, Pickleman’s has become a place where people come to create memories, celebrate milestones, and enjoy a satisfying meal. Whether you’re a local, an aspiring entrepreneur, or a traveler looking for a great meal on the go, Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe is worth a visit.