Franchisee hails eatery’s anniversary

California, MD – Leonardtown-based attorney Philip H. “Phil” Dorsey III fondly remembers the good times. Many of those times were spent on golf courses with friends and family. Over 23 years ago Dorsey was visiting his uncle in Florida. It was during a round of golf that Dorsey’s uncle told his nephew the two were going to have lunch at a new fast-food restaurant.

Who would believe that a single hamburger could create such food for thought? Dorsey recalled he was so impressed with the restaurant named Checkers that “we decided to open one in Maryland.”

The Checkers franchises had been started in Alabama about six years prior to Dorsey’s post-golf game discovery in Florida.
Factors that impressed Dorsey included the fact that Checkers “was sort of a retro, ‘50s type thing. They had a really good product. It just really made sense.” Of course, Dorsey was also enamored by the hamburger he was served. “It was off-the-hook,” he declared.

Dorsey and his partner in the Checkers venture, Barry Loescher of Crofton, opened their first restaurant in Waldorf at U.S. Route 301 and Route 5, one of the busiest intersections in Southern Maryland.

“It was so successful the State Highway Administration and Maryland State Police had to control traffic,” Dorsey recalled. The Waldorf spot became one of the top Checkers locations in the country.

Almost immediately, Dorsey and Loescher opened a second Checkers near the California Walmart in St. Mary’s County. The venture, part of Dorsey Management Company, now has 10 Checkers locations, including one in Fredericksburg, VA, and the Maryland counties of Harford, Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s.

While Dorsey practices law, Loescher is a career fast-food executive who had a long career in the Hardees chain before teaming with Dorsey for the Checkers venture. “I started at the grill and worked my way up,” said Loescher, who has operated restaurants throughout the Washington, DC area.

Of Checkers, Loescher stated, “it’s a very simple operation—quick, fast, delicious food. The value for what you pay is overwhelming. You get bang for the buck.”
Dorsey and Loescher are also effusive in their praise of each other. Loescher is described by Dorsey as a “great operations partner.”

“Phil is a very intelligent person,” said Loescher. “He’s the financial guy. He’s very influential and very connected.”

The Checkers chain will soon be celebrating its 30th anniversary. According to a corporate spokeswoman, the franchise is recognizing Dorsey as one of the 30 representatives across the country who has helped reach the major milestone.

Both Dorsey and Loescher characterized Checkers as a franchise immersed in simpler, friendlier times. The 1950s motif remains the chain’s signature look.  “Black and white tiles, stainless steel—people like that stuff,” said Dorsey.

“It’s kind of friendly thing,” Loescher added.

Dorsey, who called his involvement with Checkers franchises “a good diversion from practicing law,” remembers frequent gatherings with family members at the one of eatery’s outdoor tables, enjoying America’s most iconic of comfort foods.

“The most rewarding reason for me opening a Checkers restaurant was it was a good reason to hang out with my family,” he said. 

Contact Marty Madden at

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