DALLAS — At approximately 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, in what was a mostly empty Food Court area of the Southwest Center Mall in South Dallas, Antonio Brown sat in a chair adjacent to the newly-erected business he owns and eventually was brought to smiles.
Heck, he had every reason to grin.
“Failure is not an option,” Brown said time and again as he continued to exhibit his customary signature smile.
To get a full understanding of why Brown, a native of Dallas, deemed it necessary to smile as often as he can nowadays, look no further than the grandest of hurdles about which he had to clear in recent months.
Owner of PT’s Fried Chicken And More, Brown would be the first to tell you that he’s undoubtedly a blessed man, one whom, fortunately for him, had to overcome arguably the greatest odds of his young life.
Looking back, all he can do is smile and gaze into the heavens as he did Tuesday night from a mostly empty Food Court area and send up a smile to his Creator, whom he admittedly thanks daily.
“It sent my faith through the roof,” Brown told longtime journalist Andre Johnson during an exclusive interview. “Man, I got back in church. It’s been alright ever since.”
Brown is alluding in large part to the near shutdown of his original PT’s Fried Chicken And More location at 4131 North Westmoreland in West Dallas.
An establishment that is housed in the Mr. Food Market, Brown nearly went out of business because of constant poor revenue of a business that essentially had gone on life support.
But what Brown subsequently learned while enduring arguably his biggest setback in recent memory is that God was strategically positioning him for a comeback, a miraculous, memorable, tear-jerking comeback for the ages.
“We almost went under,” Brown said with a straight face, but with a slight grin.
Then came arguably the much-anticipated breakthrough Brown had so desperately sought for someone who had spent two decades working his way up to entrepreneurship.
Several staffers at the nearby Bank of New York Mellon had decided to try Brown’s delectable wings, in large part because they were pressed for time during their lunch break.
Their abbreviated break, as it turned out, proved to provide PT’s Fried Chicken And More the economic break it needed to become noticed throughout Dallas’ massive Metroplex.
“Well I work for BNY Mellon (Bank of New York Mellon) and, just little over one year ago, a couple of co-workers and myself stumbled over the best chicken ever,” Sheniquia Woods explained. “We actually were on our lunch (break) and headed to another restaurant that was located in the same shopping center as PT’s only to find out the restaurant had moved. And being that we only had 25 more minutes on lunch, we saw the sign PT’s chicken. Well, skeptical as we all were, we decided to give it a try.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
To Brown’s credit, that essentially marked the revitalization of a wings and things joint that is starting to become a fixture in the DFW.
“I still remember what I ordered… a three-piece wing basket,” Woods said. “Now when I tell you that was the best chicken, it was. My co-workers and I bragged on PT’s all the way back to work and started telling everyone.”
Now with two locations, Brown said plans are in the works for another establishment.
“I already have a vision for the next location, but I don’t know where,” Brown said.
Having been a business owner since February 2014, Brown said his bend-but-don’t break faith has increased mightily because he never, ever gave up even when things surrounding his business had taken a turn for the worse.
Even during those times when he literally gave away free food in an attempt to get people to buy into his vision.
Talk about paying it forward.
“Business is booming,” Brown said of his new location that has been in operations since July 5. “The first month I thought was good. The second month was better. They say it’s the best chicken around. Nobody knew about us in West Dallas.”
What a difference a few months have made.
PT’S FRIED CHICKEN AND MORE CREW (All of whom are from Dallas, Texas)
Antonio Brown, Jr.
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Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.