It's been exactly a year since Babb Bros. BBQ opened in Trinity Groves, kicking off the restaurant development project that hopes to anchor future growth in the West Dallas neighborhood. Hoffmann Hotts, a casual hot dog restaurant soon followed, and then openings slowed down until recently, when Kitchen LTO, Souk, Casa Rubia and others opened in the past few months. LUCK opened recently as well and served as host for a sparsely attended news conference held earlier today.
The weather couldn't have helped the turnout. Clouds obscured the sun and wind ripped through the restaurants' patio as Trinity Groves founder Phil Romano spoke to the press. Mayor Mike Rawlings, who was scheduled to make an appearance, was apparently sick and couldn't make the event.
Trinity Groves has eight restaurants in operation and has generated nearly 400 jobs, with 200 openings currently waiting to be filled, Romano said. Another 400 new positions are expected in the coming months as additional restaurants open, bringing the total to 1,000 jobs across all aspects of the service industry from the front to the back of the house.
The mayor's chief of staf,f Adam McGough, who attended on Rawling's behalf, echoed hopes that Trinity Groves would foster growth in surrounding neighborhoods, but it seems more likely that Romano's project will help spur restaurant growth elsewhere in the Dallas area first. The restaurant incubator is supposed to help restaurateurs scale up and open subsequent locations, much like Romano's Macaroni Grill and other chain restaurant brands Romano has built into restaurant behemoths.
"I think it's going to be a horse race," Romano said, when asked which of the currently open restaurants might be first to strike out with a second location. And while restaurants tapped for expansion will likely do so in the DFW area, specific locations remain to be determined.
"It depends on what kind of customers they draw," Romano said motioning to LUCK, which offers craft beer and a simple, homey menu. "These guys draw a lot of young people."
So LUCK has a good chance of ending up within a close distance to a college campus or a neighborhood where young professionals tend to hang out.
Before any of the restaurants operating at Trinity Groves open a second location, though, they'll likely be joined by more businesses and more competition. Next door, workers inside Chino Chinatown stood inside a dining room that didn't look far from opening. Resto Gastro Bistro, Off-Site Kitchen and more are soon to follow.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.