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Dallas 500

Meet the Dallas 500: Sam Romano

The president of Romano Enterprises talks about lessons learned from his father Phil Romano, Nick & Sam's latest success, and more.
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Sam Romano became majority owner and general partner of his namesake company early in 2022—a company founded by his father Phil, the brains behind Fuddruckers, Eatzi’s, Nick & Sam’s, and more than a dozen other restaurant concepts. 2022 was Nick & Sam’s best year financially since the restaurant opened in 1999.

In Romano’s extended 2023 Dallas 500 Q&A, he talks about enduring injuries through his college lacrosse career at Syracuse, learning the ropes from his father, and more.

Birthplace: Dallas

Education: Syracuse University

First Job: “My first job was, ironically, at Nick & Sam’s. I was a host there when I was 7 years old. My job was walking guests to their tables, carrying menu’s, and putting napkins in guests laps. All while wearing a name tag on my suit titled ‘I accept tips.’ I learned that the customer always come first.”

Best Advice: “The best piece of advice I’ve ever received came from my father. He’s always told me that no matter what I am doing to try and be the very best at whatever it is. I’ve taken that advice to heart throughout all stages of my life and it has fueled my competitive fire. Whatever I am doing I am going to try to be the very best at it.”

Dinner Party: “I would have dinner with my partner and chef at Nick & Sam’s, Samir Dhurandhar, and our Eatzi’s CEO, Adam Romo. We would be able to talk about well-being and the future of our business more than we already do.”

Destinations of Choice: “I like going anywhere with a good restaurant scene where I can take some ideas from. Mostly Las Vegas, Chicago, or New York.”

Hobby/Passion: “I enjoy being active and working out. I played sports growing up and lacrosse in college so physical activity has always been a part of my life. I feel as if I can go about my business day better knowing I’ve pushed myself to the limit physically that day.”

Industry Change: “I would change the burden of finding and keeping good employees. It’s really hard for restaurants to find enough people right now, so when you find good team members, it’s important to keep them motivated and engaged.”

Do-over: “I wouldn’t redo anything. The mistakes I’ve made have made me who I am today. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in business already but have been able to learn from each mistake. Everyone makes mistakes and I think that if you can’t recognize mistakes and learn from them then you can’t possibly be the best version of yourself.”

Fun Fact: “I was the first lacrosse player from Texas to be named a First Team All-American by USA Today in high school.”

Go-to Advisor: “I go to Stuart Fitts for business advice. He’s been partners and friends with our family for a long time and he’s been instrumental in helping me navigate through my career when the times call for it. We’ve celebrated wins and endured hard news together.”

First Car: “A black Chevrolet Tahoe. I still have it and plan on giving it to my first son as it was a gift from my father.”

A Better DFW: “I think the demand in Dallas for dining is significant, so we need more restaurants. I think we’ll see popular restaurants from places like New York and Chicago making a second or third home in Dallas.”

Pivotal Moment: “When I got to Syracuse to play lacrosse I got injured seriously and needed surgery on my hip. Going from the high moment of getting  ready to play my first year of college athletics to being sidelined for the whole season made me learn not to take anything for granted. I worked hard to get back on the field and it taught me that resilience and persistence are key factors to success.”

Walk-up Song: “‘O Fortuna’ from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. The original Latin poem is about the elusiveness of good fortune. It reminds me that success is not easily obtained. It is also the song we walked out of the tunnel to at Syracuse so it always gives me chills.”

Must-read: The MAD Entrepreneur by Phil Romano. It’s all of the life lessons that my dad has taught me in a book.”

Spirit Animal: “I’d say a bear because I’d do anything for the people who are close to me.”

Alternate Reality: “I minored in sports management at Syracuse and thoroughly enjoyed it. Sports have always played a big part of my life so I could see myself in the sports industry.”

Biggest Risk: “We like to invest in a lot of early stage companies and I think when investing in startups there’s always going to be risks. Our company, Scientific Health Development, is focused on early stage medical devices and investing initial capital in entrepreneurs is risky but can be rewarding.”

Bucket List: “Be in attendance for someone winning a Nobel Peace Prize.”

Key Leadership Strategies: “The key leadership strategy that I value most is loyalty. I’m going to take care of the people that work hard and do the right things to take care of our businesses. On the flip side, I’m looking for employees that will be loyal to my business and to me. I’d like to think the respect goes both ways.”

Future Forecast: “I’m excited about the future of West Dallas and Trinity Groves. I think the development of the area as a whole will create another dimension to the City of Dallas.”

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D CEO Staff

D CEO Staff

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