The beginnings of Dame’s Chicken & Waffles can be traced back to a dance appreciation class at UNCG in the early 1990s.

Not only did Randy Wadsworth ’95 gain a new appreciation for the arts, but he met fellow freshman – and future business partner – Damion “Dame” Moore ’95.

Both marketing majors in UNCG’s Bryan School of Business and Economics, the two became roommates and then fraternity brothers. They shared the goal of landing corporate jobs after graduation – a dream that they both realized.

“We went our separate ways, but we stayed in contact the entire time,” Wadsworth said.

Wadsworth spent 12 years with Ford Motor Company before returning to North Carolina to work for Wells Fargo. Meanwhile, Moore was traveling the world with a multinational telecommunications company. Then, the company hit troubled times.

“I got laid off,” Moore said. “I was fortunate that I received a pretty generous severance package, and I had a choice. I could get back into corporate America and work for someone – which certainly had its advantages – or I could roll the dice on cooking for a living.”

After starting their first Dame’s Chicken & Waffles restaurant in Durham in 2010, Wadsworth and Moore opened another location in Greensboro – just minutes from UNCG – and a Dame’s Express on the campus of Duke University.

Last fall, the first Dame’s franchise location opened in Cary. The two have also opened a production facility in Mooresville, where they create their waffle batter and famous “shmears,” sweet crème butters that come in a variety of flavors.

The growth of their business has been deliberate, well-planned and self-funded, with a focus on quality.

“When we started off we had to be self-sufficient, because it was during the mortgage crisis and we couldn’t get a lot of money in terms of loans,” Moore said. “We relied on our own abilities and skills from day one, even if it meant we had to take baby steps.”

Their love and appreciation for UNCG is reflected in the name of their company – Hinshaw Holdings is named after UNCG’s Hinshaw Residence Hall, where the two lived as students.

Now, they’re giving back to the community that helped spur their success. Wadsworth and Moore recently established a scholarship fund for Bryan School students.

“Since the day we’ve opened, I think we’ve given away more than we’ve actually put in our pockets,” Wadsworth said. “The reason we thought of UNCG is, that’s the foundation of it all. That’s where we all started, and we remember.”

 

Story by Casey Fletcher, Bryan School, and Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography by Emma Barker