You’d think Joey Zapoli and Larry Lavine would be set for life. Lavine founded Chili’s, which should surely guarantee early retirement, no? Zapoli’s an author and one-time successful franchiser.
But the two have launched a new chain, Red’s Patio Grill—emphasis on patio. This has to be one of the first places where your table location matters more than what you order. Its handsomely appointed dining room, with its plentiful woods and stone, sat nearly empty, while diners wait-listed to be seated on the 1,200-square-foot outdoor patio that overlooks the man-made pond at Lakeside Market Center.

Which isn’t to say that the menu of burgers, sandwiches, and salads isn’t perfectly good. Dressings are made on-site, and nothing starts out frozen. Burgers, nearly an inch thick, were made from a Montana-based purveyor of natural beef. Seasoned fries came from fresh potatoes, not frozen. Rotisserie chicken felt like fancy home cooking with buttery mashed potatoes and still-crisp haricots verts.

The founders even imposed personal touches. Zapoli worked for many years with Cozymel’s, which means crisp and salty tortilla chips, with smoky salsa, and a deep selection of tequilas and margaritas (including one deluxe option priced at an outrageous $99). Given Lavine’s history, it made sense there’d be good chili, just spicy enough, with a tiny bag of Fritos on the side.

Look for more patio craziness coming up, as Lavine and Zapoli plan to open six more branches in the Dallas area pronto.

Get contact information for Red’s Patio Grill.

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