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Del Frisco's to open smaller Grille sibling

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group is opening the first unit of its newest concept, Del Frisco’s Grille, in New York City Saturday, and plans to open another four to six such restaurants every year for the next several years.

Del Frisco’s Grille is a smaller, more casual and bar-centric version of its nine-unit Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse concept, chief executive Mark Mednansky said during an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News at the New York location.

Along with USDA Prime steaks and the usual steakhouse sides, the Grille serves less formal menu items, including $18 hamburgers, flatbreads, entrée salads and a grilled cheese sandwich made with Cheddar, Gouda and parmesan cheeses and Mornay sauce. That sandwich, served with tomato bisque, is $16.

The restaurant has 700 wines, including 22 by the glass, as well as beer on tap. The latter is a first for the company, which also operates 20 Sullivan’s Steakhouse restaurants.

The décor and ambience are targeted toward Generation X customers 30 to 45 years old, Mednansky said. He added that he hoped the restaurant would appeal to business people who use their corporate credit cards at the steakhouse and would also visit the Grille on their own time.

Mednansky anticipates an average check of between $60 and $65 in the new restaurant, compared to about $110 at Del Frisco’s steakhouses. The new 4,700-square-foot restaurant seats 200 people, and includes an area that can be reserved for private dinners of up to 30 people, and another private room with a 10-seat table and large screen television suitable for business meetings.

“We think it has great portability for international expansion,” Mednansky said, noting that restaurants with smaller footprints have more opportunities in Europe and Asia. American travelers overseas indicated to him that they seek out bar-centric restaurants where they can unwind and feel at home.

Mednansky projected that the new restaurant, located in Rockefeller Center, will gross $8 million in its first year.

The Del Frisco’s steak house several blocks away — a 16,000-square-foot facility that seats 530 people — is expected to have record sales of $36 million this year, he said.

A second Del Frisco’s Grille is under construction in the company’s hometown of Dallas, he said, just north of downtown at McKinney Avenue and Hall Street. It’s slated to open in mid-November.

Mednansky expected both Grilles to have successful weekend lunch dayparts, which have eluded Del Frisco’s and Sullivan’s.

“I want 14 busy dayparts at every Grille,” he said.

Along with the new concepts potential for overseas expansion, Mednansky said he anticipated the new concept to potentially “backfill” the nine markets in which Del Frisco’s currently operate — Dallas; Fort Worth; Denver; Houston; Charlotte, N.C.; Las Vegas; Boston; Philadelphia and New York — as well as to be the first point of entry for new markets, such as Atlanta.

He said he hopes bar sales will account for 38 percent to 40 percent of sales at the Grilles, compared to 30 percent at the company’s other concepts.

The company also plans to open one new Del Frisco’s restaurant and one new Sullivan’s Steakhouse each year.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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