Dallas restaurateur (and EscapeHatch contributor) Phil Romano has had his hand in a lot of cookie jars. Nacho Mama’s, Cozymel’s, Macaroni Grill, Nick and Sam’s, N&S’s Grill, Coal Vines, Il Mulino Dallas–they’re all Romano love children.
Know what else is his? EatZi‘s, which Romano birthed, sold, repurchased then revived. Now, he’s growing it. Again.
After an ill-fated push into far-away markets like NYC and Altanta, EatZi’s retrenched. Now with just two Dallas units, Romano is growing the concept, opening a two new stores in Grapevine. EatZi’s will rehab a long-closed Luby’s, then decide where to put a second location once they see how the first does. The city kicked in some incentive cash to bring EatZi’s to Grapevine. Probably not as good as deal as Jerry Jones got from Arlington, but it helps. To get the cash flowing, EatZi’s has also rolled out a take-home version of their really good marinara sauce. (Big jars of the sauce sell for about $10 at EatZi’s in Dallas.)
Meanwhile, Luby‘s is mining some of that old Romano gold. After acquiring Fuddruckers last year–a concept originally created in 1979 by, yep, that same Phil Romonao–Luby’s Inc. is launching smaller “Fudds Express” prototypes in an effort to grow the brand. The new FE’s will be incorporated into Luby’s cafeterias or built as stand-alone locations. The first two FE’s will open in Houston next month: one will go into a Luby’s Cafeteria; the other will be a free-standing downtown unit.