By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
"I think there's a deep market here," says Michael Morton, founder of N9NE Group (Ghostbar, Nove Italiano and the upcoming Liquid Sky lounge). N9NE Steak House opened in Victory Park last month. "The steakhouse component is extremely competitive, but I also think it's very deep." But is it hedge fund lucre deep? With a crisp, club-ish design targeting the young and aspirational (reggae and a silver leaf dome ceiling that changes hues), N9NE comes off as a meat market with your choice of sirloin or sweaty loins. And beefy ones at least are pricey. Ring up $25 hamburgers (Kobe that) and $44 sirloins. It all seems so...unsustainable, demographically speaking. As one young entrepreneur knee-deep in seven figures recently said to me: "These prices make even me flinch."
Question: Will the traditional steakhouse populace flinch? Morton insists not. He points out his restaurants in Chicago and Vegas are consistently among the highest-grossing venues in their respective cities. "Why can't you have an energy in the restaurant that doesn't have to have those heavier, classic 20th-century tones with Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand on the airwaves?"
Plus, Morton says, his restaurants get the cream of prime beef. Because of his long relationship with beef suppliers such as Allen Brothers and Stock Yards in Chicago (Morton's The Steakhouse founder Arnie Morton is Michael's father), Morton claims he is able to demand the tightest beef specs in the business, leaving his competitors to scrabble over prime scrap. Good stuff. But can Dallas afford to care, long term?