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Eureka! Restaurant Group puts a California-born spin on traditional casual dining in food-savvy and technology-heavy markets.
The Hawthorne, Calif.-based Eureka debuted in 2009, and is set to open its fifteenth restaurant in Austin, Texas, in March.
Paul Frederick, who co-founded Eureka with Justin Nedelman, said location is part of the concept’s branding.
“We like to target ‘discovery’ markets, which are usually tech markets or university markets or up-and-coming urban markets,” he said.
The company plans new restaurants next to the new Apple Inc. headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., and Frederick said the company is looking at a deal in Mountain View, Calif., near the Google Inc. campus. The company’s plans this year include two more restaurants in California, and a second restaurant in Dallas.
Eureka’s “whole goal from the beginning was to produce the best restaurant experience,” Frederick said. “It’s a premium restaurant experience at really affordable pricing with value in mind all the way.”
Except for two early units, Eureka restaurants generally cover between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet and seat about 150 people.
“We want the restaurant to feel intimate no matter how busy it is,” Frederick said.
As it has moved out of its home state, Eureka features about 40 local craft beers, as well California varieties, on tap in its Washington and Texas restaurants, with 15 always in stock and a rotating group of 25 additional pours.
“It’s a neat network we’ve built with small vendors,” Frederick said. “We like to get the hard-to-get, hard-to-find, often local guys.”
Eureka’s criteria on the whiskey and spirits side, including vodka, is to deal with small-batch providers or distillers, typically with an allocation of 20,000 bottles or fewer annually.
Without pricier premium beverages included, the brand logs a per-person check average of between $12 and $14 at lunch and $16 and $24 at dinner.
Eureka defines its culinary niche as “all-American comfort classics done with modern twists in recipes and presentations.”
The company has financed its growth through investments by friends and family, Frederick explained. Early investors in Eureka live in Dallas, so that’s why the company expanded to that market so early, he said.
“We’re working with a few strategic capital partners,” he said, “but right now growth is all self-funded and funded from internal revenue.”
The emphasis on local also extends to Eureka’s live music offerings, usually on Thursdays and Saturdays.
“It’s interactive, local and there are a lot of friends who follow these local artists,” Frederick said.
Eureka also plans to expand its music-oriented bona fides by creating a pop-up restaurant in April at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., and hopes to work with Austin City Limits in Texas.
Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless