Texas de Kaching

"We want to be the P.F. Chang's of steakhouses," Texas de Brazil founder and COO Salim Asrawi said when the first Texas de Brazil churrascaria opened in Addison in 1998. Churrascarias are those Brazilian grills where skewered meats are roasted over open pits and continuously cycled through the dining and carved tableside by gauchos, or South American cowboys. Over the last eight years, Asrawi has bulked up his Dallas restaurant company with seven more Texas de Brazils in Dallas, Fort Worth, Miami, Orlando, Memphis, Aruba and the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg.

But that's nothing compared to the corporate swelling he's staging over the next 18 to 24 months, when Asrawi will more than double his company by adding three units this fall in Denver and Richmond and Fairfax, Virginia, followed by four more in Palm Beach, Baton Rouge, Las Vegas and downtown Chicago in 2007. That will be followed by new locations in Scottsdale, Gulf Stream (near Miami), St. Louis and New York City in 2008, bringing the total number of restaurants to 19. And Texas de Brazil is a closely held, family company.

So how does Aswari plan to bankroll this expansion? Through restaurant revenue streams, strategic partnerships with large commercial mall developers via tenant allowances and bank financing. "There's a lot of big mall developers that come after us," he boasts. And he has no intention of ever tapping into licensing and franchising agreements or partnerships. He projects the Texas de Brazil fiscal bloodstream will top $50 million this year. Plus, he's wrapping up an extensive renovation of the original Addison location and has just launched a line of Texas de Brazil private label varietal wines from Portuguese juice--to keep the cultural synergy (is that still a word?) throbbing. --Mark Stuertz

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