ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Dion’s, the popular Albuquerque-based restaurant company that’s often honored on Best in the Region lists for its pizza, subs, salads and Ranch dressing, is marking its 40th year in business.
The chain, which started in 1978, now has 23 locations in three states and 1,600 employees.
“It’s been quite a ride; the years went by pretty fast,” said co-owner Jon Patten, who revealed the original eatery at Montgomery and Juan Tabo did $29 in sales on its first full business day of Feb. 20, 1978.
“It was a very much hands-on operation,” said Patten, adding he and co-founder Bill Scott, a childhood friend from Michigan, first thought that they would transform New York Pizza (Dion’s original name) and the business they bought for $5,000, into a Greek restaurant.
Inside of the year, Patten and Scott renamed the restaurant Dion’s, serving a mix of pizza and Greek food. Their original idea was to call it Dionysus after the Greek god of wine and indulgence, only they couldn’t afford a sign large enough to hold that many letters. Half the name meant half the price. Dion’s it would be.
They would also soon drop the Greek food since customers were flipping over the pies they were pumping out. The only reminder of Dion’s original concept on the menu is its Greek Salad and dressing.
“We focused on quality from the beginning. We upgraded the sauce and the cheese and toppings. We make our own dough and sub buns,” said Patten.
“We are honored by the enthusiasm of Dion’s fans and are as committed as ever to serving amazing food in a comfortable environment,” said Patten. “We are anxious to see what the next 40 years, and beyond, will bring.”