Restaurateur Phil Romano Writes about EatZi’s
Watching a new eatZi’s Market & Bakery open in Dallas is like adding a new member to the family. In fact, creating restaurant concepts is a lot like having a child. You feed it, nurture it the best way you know how and hope it grows up to be a success. In the end though, you don’t always know how it’ll turn out. It’s the same with eatZi’s.
Back in 1996, I set out to create a European-style market with chef-prepared, ready-made meals. The response was great, and after a few years we were able to sell the concept to people who had plans to take it nationwide. Their expansion happened quickly – too fast really. Stores popped up across the nation and, just as rapidly, the concept became diluted. When the new owners realized they were in over their heads, they asked me to buy it back. At that point, I knew that all the markets were too far gone but Oak Lawn was still my baby. So, I bought back the rights to the name and the Dallas market with the intent to start fresh and get things back where they belonged. The first step was to put the focus back on the customer, so that those who knew eatZi’s in the beginning would recognize it again. We ran a tight, profitable ship for the next few years and in 2009, we knew it was time for a new addition.
As construction on the new market wore on last fall, we made sure the new spot was a close cousin of Oak Lawn. The sister stores look a lot alike inside and have a sandwich and salad bar, a grill and fresh-baked breads. It’s only slightly smaller in terms of square-footage, but we know we’ve got the logistics of prep and presentation ironed out.
Lately, people have asked me why we picked The Pavilion on Lovers Lane. I tell them that families make up a considerable portion of the eatZi’s customer base, and there are several growing neighborhoods of families near the shopping center. Customers from that area were visiting Oak Lawn once, maybe twice a month. By putting a market in their own backyard, we’re bringing the “market” to Mohammed.
As far as more locations go, eatZi’s is a Dallas concept. At this point we only plan to expand in and around the Metroplex. I think DFW could easily support 15 – 20 eatZi’s locations when everything’s said and done, so stay tuned.
The new store, at 5600 W. Lovers Lane in Dallas, opens Friday at 10 am, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Philip J. Romano, his partners, Jerry Meyer and Stuart Fitts, and Leo Corrigan, Jr. Call 214.358.3100 or visit www.eatzis.com for further info.
Phil Romano is the creator of eatZi’s Market & Bakery, Fuddruckers, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, and Cozymel’s, among others.