The 10 Most Powerful People in Dallas Dining

Phil Romano, talking up Trinity Groves
Phil Romano, talking up Trinity Groves
Scott Reitz

When you think about the word "power," a lot of things come to mind. Some of us imagine a tough, take-no-shit type of personality, and others recognize the influence and, well, power of a quieter, gentler rule. In Dallas' dining scene, we have a blend of those personalities when it comes to the people who make the decisions about the city's new restaurants.

Outside of the chefs, of which there are a few on this list, it is largely the investors, owners, and behind-the-scenes types who drive the dining scene forward. These players wield influence in their own ways, but they have all made their mark on a restaurant scene that is seeing more growth and innovation than ever.

Phil Romano (above) After his massive success in chain restaurants, including Fuddrucker's and Romano's Macaroni Grill, veteran restaurateur Phil Romano has moved on to incubating some of the city's most exciting new restaurants at Trinity Groves. His "restaurant amusement park" south of the Margaret Hunt Hill was easily the most buzzed about restaurant topic in 2014, and had everyone from chefs to diners trying to figure out what was going to happen next, or if the development is as good as it seems for chefs. Ever the savvy businessman, Romano maintains a stake in the Trinity Groves concepts if they take off, which means that he will continue to play a huge role in the future growth of the restaurant scene.

LARK on the Park, Shannon Wynne's foray into fine dining.
LARK on the Park, Shannon Wynne's foray into fine dining.
Scott Reitz

Shannon Wynne The ways that Shannon Wynne has shaped the Dallas restaurant scene cannot be underestimated. Instead of focusing on stuffy fine-dining restaurants, Wynne practically launched the gastropub trend in Dallas with Meddlesome Moth. Even his Flying Saucer Draught Emporiums were before their time, and have since taken off to open in six states. In recent years, Wynne has dipped his toe into fine-dining, opening the much-lauded LARK on the Park in 2013, along with the forthcoming produce-focused restaurant Mudhen at the improved Dallas Farmers Market.

Tim Headington Tim Headington has influenced the oil and film industries for decades, but his reign in the Dallas dining scene has only begun. His boutique hotels, The Joule and The Lumen, are home to some of Dallas' most promising restaurants in CBD Provisions and Front Room Tavern, and there are more to come. It's clear Headington has an eye for talent and prime real estate, a talent that will only drive Headington Companies further in control of Dallas' dining scene.

Lindsey Miller Public relations pros don't get much credit when it comes to the success of restaurants, but there are many in Dallas that owe their packed houses to the work of great PR. In Dallas, Lindsey Miller of Lindsey Miller Public Relations singlehandedly manages some of the city's biggest restaurants, including the newly opened Remedy, Blind Butcher and Gemma. Miller is easily the hardest working woman in Dallas PR, and she has an uncanny ability to attract top-notch clients that are consistently story-worthy.

You can thank Nick Badovinus for Dallas' best burger.
You can thank Nick Badovinus for Dallas' best burger.
Sara Kerens

Nick Badovinus James Beard-nominated restaurateur Nick Badovinus has been in the Dallas restaurant world for a long time, and has been on top of it for almost as long. After a successful run at Consilient Restaurants (now Raised Palate), Badovinus branched out on his own to open Neighborhood Services, his chain of always-humming New American restaurants. Since, Badovinus has opened everyone's favorite burger joint in Off-Site Kitchen. For 2015, Badovinus is planning an open-hearth steak concept, and he recently acquired the restaurant space formerly occupied by John Tesar's Spoon.

Love or hate her, Leslie Brenner is powerful.
Love or hate her, Leslie Brenner is powerful.
Evans Caglage

Leslie Brenner Love or hate her, Leslie Brenner wields a great deal of influence in the Dallas dining scene. Whether or not you agree with her reviews or rating system, Brenner is still the city's most important critic. If anything, her blow-up with John Tesar and Proof + Pantry is indicative of the power she wields, especially in the national culinary world. One need only look at the ascent of Matt McCallister and Omar Flores, Brenner's chef darlings, into the eye of Food & Wine and the James Beard Foundation to see just how true that is.



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