50th Anniversary Alumni: Jerry Deitchle, MBA ’75
Jerry Deitchle’s, MBA ’75, memories of his time at UTSA include reminiscing about the Koger Center, not the Main Campus which opened the semester he graduated. Looking for a program close to home and to Randolph Air Force Base, where he was stationed, UTSA fit the bill.
“The quality of education at UTSA was very high,” said Deitchle, who now lives in Boerne. “I remember taking a graduate economics class with Dean Doug Hodo.”
Deitchle’s 40-year career in the restaurant industry began in 1977 at Church’s Chicken, which was headquartered in San Antonio at that time. He was hired to work in the accounting department and quickly realized he needed his CPA to advance his career. Returning to UTSA, he took accounting classes so that he could sit for the CPA exam. Thanks to UTSA’s high-quality preparation, Deitchle passed the entire exam at his first sitting.
Working primarily on the finance and operations side, Deitchle’s career pivoted when he was named corporate president at the Cheesecake Factory and later CEO and chair at BJ’s Restaurants. When Deitchle came on board at BJ’s they had 30 restaurants. They’ve now grown to 207 today.
“The CEO has to wear the offensive coordinator hat and drive growth,” said Deitchle. “Few restaurant company CEOs come out of finance. I am an exception. I was willing to take on restaurant management responsibilities outside my comfort zone and relocate to advance my career.”
In addition to his work with BJ’s, Deitchle sits on the boards of four growing restaurant businesses.
“The investors bring me in when the company is small,” he said. “I help set up their infrastructure, mentor their management teams and set them up for profitable expansions.”
According to Deitchle integrity, work ethic and passion for your business are three traits that were critical to his success in the restaurant industry.
“I’m proud of the fact that I played a role in building the foundations for a couple of small restaurant companies that have succeeded and made it to the big leagues,” said Deitchle.