A giant burger-and-cheeseburger dip from a restaurant that sells its cheese dip to restaurants nationwide was so popular that the company went bankrupt.
It’s the story of the $1.5 million empire.
The burger-butter dip, sold under the name Big Cheese, has more than 4,000 restaurants around the country, with about 2,000 in Texas.
It sells for about $2.99 a cup.
It is the product of a partnership between the Austin-based restaurant chain, the Big Cheese Bakery and Big Cheese Foods, the owners of the Texas-based burger and cheese manufacturer.
The company had to close its Houston and Austin restaurants in 2010 because of high costs and declining sales.
But the company rebranded its product as Big Cheese Dip and started selling it to restaurants across the country.
It began in 2009 in Texas with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and was made with the cheese of a dozen Texas-born cheese farmers.
It had a loyal following among the local Tex-Mex community, which was quickly gaining popularity.
The sales grew to about $4 million in 2013 and reached $6 million last year.
But Big Cheese dips were a hit at fast-food restaurants and became the signature product of the restaurant chain.
It was sold at restaurants nationwide, including the Dallas-based chain Shake Shack.
It’s also sold to other chain restaurants including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Burger King and Chipotle.
The dip was also sold in specialty markets like the Midwest, and it became popular at upscale restaurants like Panera Bread and Trader Joe’s.
The Big Cheese Dips became the mainstay of the burger-eating world, said Paul Siegel, vice president of the marketing firm Siegel & Co.
Siegel & Collins, which represents Big Cheese Brands, said the company had about 200 stores in Texas and about 30 in the U.S. The Austin-area locations were sold out.
In a statement, the company said its sales in the first three quarters of this year were $6.9 million, or about 6 percent of its total sales.
It said the dips are sold on its website and at other restaurants in Texas, as well as in other states and countries.
Sauer said the dip is now the top-selling dip in the company’s history and that sales have exceeded $10 million in each of the past three quarters.
Big Cheese said it would be filing for bankruptcy protection and is still looking for partners to help finance the deal.
It plans to buy the Big Brokerage property in Austin and build a new plant there.
Big Broker, the business and investment company that is part of the Austin group, owns the Big Bucks and Big Brokers stores in Austin.
Seller’s Paradise, a chain of upscale stores that sells a wide variety of products, including apparel and accessories, is part-owned by the Big Boss Group, which includes the Texas Group, the Dallas company that owns the Dallas Mavericks.
Big Boss also owns and operates Panera, the chain’s second-largest franchisee in Texas after Wendy’s.
The Big Cheese brand is a trademark of Big Cheese Industries, Inc.
Saule said the bankruptcy would not affect any existing sales.
Big cheese products are sold through Big Cheese Dairy and the Big Cheeseburgers in the Houston area, the Chicago area and other markets.
The Texas-wide Big Cheese sales reached $7.9 billion in 2013, with the Houston-area brand at the top.