Tuscaloosa: A Q n’ A With Milo’s CEO Tom Dekle


Milo’s is returning to Tuscaloosa. Yes, I know. It’s hard to believe. I’m sure only those who have driven past their new establishment on Skyland Boulevard would be able to wrap their minds around this miracle.

I had the pleasure of asking Tom Dekle, the CEO of Milo’s, a few questions recently.

Milo’s The Original is copyright of Milo’s Hamburgers

How much did it mean to you and the rest of the Milo’s team when Tuscaloosa residents began reaching out, daily, via social media asking for you to come back?

We really have had people commenting on our website (miloshamburgers.com) and contacting us via social media, asking (and in some cases demanding) that we come back. It only reinforced our intent to find the right spot and get back to Tuscaloosa as soon as we could. Because of zoning and some other things, we weren’t able to simply rebuild in our old spot, so we set out to find the right location. We’re even more excited to be back than Tuscaloosa is to have us back.

Milo’s food is already fantastic. What should we expect from your breakfast menu? Will it mimic other generic menus or will there be a unique spin?

We didn’t want to offer the standard fast food breakfast fare. We took a lot of time finding the right fits for Milo’s. We have Alabama’s own Conecuh sausage on a biscuit, and you’ll be hard pressed to find that anywhere else. We have biscuits and wraps, but you can also get any breakfast order on Milo’s signature grilled bun. So you can have patty sausage, fried chicken, bacon egg and cheese or Conecuh sausage either on a biscuit, in a wrap or on a bun. We have crispy hash browns, that go great with our sauces. The tastiest, softest mini cinnamon buns you’ve ever seen round out the breakfast menu. Those are made for us by Millie Ray’s Rolls. We also serve locally roasted coffee. We have made a lot of fans with our new breakfast menu. Tuscaloosa is only the third location to get breakfast; we’ll roll it out to all other stores later this summer.

Every time I go to any Milo’s location the employees seem so happy. How have you and your team created such a positive environment for your employees?

That’s really kind of you to notice that. We spend a lot of time researching sourcing the best ingredients and developing recipes—but our team is as critically important to our success. It’s important to us to have team members who enjoy what they do. We think a meal tastes even better when the people who make it and serve it have a smile on their face. We work to create an environment where folks in front of the counter and behind it feel appreciated and valued.

If you had to pick one item on your menu to eat right now, what would it be? 

Hmmmm. If I had to pick one (only one?) it would be our whole breast chicken sandwich with Boom Boom sauce. It’s another item that’s been added to the menu since we were in Tuscaloosa. It’s hand breaded and the Boom Boom sauce gives it a kick that sounds real appetizing right now. We’ve added a few things since Tuscaloosa saw us last. This location will be a little different from the previous location because we’re introducing what we call our “Sauce Bar.” We have several sauces (Original Milo’s sauce, honey mustard, ranch, Double O [part Milo’s sauce, part ranch] and Boom-Boom, which has some heat to it.) We put these sauces out from so folks can help themselves. The same now with drinks—people will be able to help themselves to drinks and refills. We’ve also added hand-breaded chicken tenders to the menu.

Milo’s has been extremely consistent with their menu throughout its time as a restaurant. I don’t recall there being many limited release items (if any). Why do you use this strategy?

We like to focus and do things well. We have added new items, but always while keeping an eye on consistency and quality. The new menu items are developed with a lot of care. Anything we do, we want it to be the best. And once we’ve served someone the best, we’d hate to disappoint them if they asked for it again and it was gone!

Tuscaloosa has missed Milo’s arguably more than any other restaurant. We are so excited you are returning! Why did it take so long for this much-anticipated return?

As I mentioned, because of zoning and some other things, we weren’t able to simply rebuild in our old spot, so we set out to find the right location. We studied traffic patterns, and we found a spot that’s easy to access from any part of town. Skyland and Hwy 69 is a good location for us. We can safely say we’re even more excited to be back than Tuscaloosa is to have us back.

The ribbon cutting for Milo’s is this Tuesday at 9:30 AM. The store will open for business Wednesday morning. Bama Hammer will have a full write-up of the new menu along with photos and video from the ribbon cutting courtesy of Clay Shumate and Tyler Dalton.

…The sauce is back…