My Five Cents: Dallas Has Too Many Boring American Restaurants

Paul Martin's American Grill is opening this summer. Do we need more mac and cheese, burgers, and braised short ribs?

I’m all about supporting the local restaurant business. After watching it shrink and suffer during the recent depression, it’s been nice to watch it bloom and grow over the last five years.

I have two concerns about the recent boom. One: I’m concerned the labor pool is stretched too thin. There are too many restaurants and not enough talented chefs, sous chefs, line cooks, and kitchen staff to maintain high quality. Gifted chefs own the market. And they move around so often it’s hard to keep track of them. I’ve often wondered why chefs in other markets don’t see Dallas as a great market opportunity to move here and develop their skills. I get calls all of the time from restaurant owners who are looking for some new blood.

My second concern is the overabundance of the American restaurants. Quit trying to be the next Houston’s (it isn’t going to happen) and let your freak flag fly.

Today comes word that Paul Martin’s American Grill is opening this summer on the corner of Oak Lawn and Blackburn. This is not a personal attack on this burgeoning chain restaurant headquartered in Roseville, California; it is more of a reaction a 6,000-square foot restaurant with “a menu of contemporary American dishes utilizing the finest seasonal produce, seafood from sustainable fisheries, and free-range meats and poultry” moving into a saturated American food market.

Will somebody please think outside of the “seasonal and delicious” box? Do we need more mac and cheese, burgers, and braised short ribs?

Comments

  • Barry Crook

    if the marketplace agrees with you, they won’t be around long . . .

  • Bill

    I agree that chefs are moving around for the $ so I get that point of the article. The Paul Martin story is OLD NEWS

  • Cbsdallas

    This is a good fit for The new Turtle Creek Village they are also getting an East Hampton Sandwich shop and already have a Zoe’s Kitchen open. If you are looking for something more challenging there is the new Uchi opening and also many many more places that are different. Not sure you live in the same city I do.

  • Bob

    No, we don’t need more burgers. And I am most tired of this every new burger joint has to be the greatest ever so you have to go stand in line for an hour with your friends. Some places that were touted as the best burger in Texas last year are already closed.

    Its just a burger, get over it. Put a quail egg on it – still a burger.

  • AmyS

    I thought that name sounded familiar. It’s a Paul Fleming concept. As in PF Changs, Flemings Steakhouse, Pei Wei, ZTejas, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

  • A_D

    I think you have to lay a fair share of the blame to this rise on the real estate developers in the area. The developers are looking for big rents, on top of percentage rent, and big balance sheets to back them up. This leaves the independent out of the notable sites looking for average or sub average real estate where there concepts likely don’t work. Just my 25 years experience in the industry speaking as I continue to try and a second location.

    • AmyS

      A_D well said. Because of zoning, much of the 4 corner retail in many neighborhoods is locked up and owned by the same pockets of wealth, either family or corporate. Want a cute neighborhood house converted into a diner? Not going to happen in most areas of Dallas. Houston definitely, San Antonio probably, Austin maybe, Dallas – only in certain pockets (but even many of those have been purchased by developers). Outside of Dallas an entrepreneur has a better chance of finding and purchasing their location, and are able to not only pay for the real estate through their restaurant operations, but also only see their location costs grow according to expenses, not due to competitive rent rates. You may think you own a restaurant, but in truth, if you’re renting, the landlord really owns it, you’re just working for him most of the time.

      A_D, find some investors (if you can) willing to split the deal between buying the restaurant and buying the location, it should be a plus to investors because one will pay for the other, and if it doesn’t work out you’ll have a location to sell or lease to someone else. Much more stable investment opportunity than just investing in the operations alone.

  • EN B

    I totally agree with A_D.

  • Lynn B

    Agree with A_D. I am looking forward to this restaurant though. I hate going to Highland Park Village and I am very tired of Preaton Center’s options. I like this location a lot and will be a regular. I didn’t know Hampton sandwiches are coming. Great news. I loved Gene Street’s shop there. I think if they can hire a great staff Paul Martin will be a huge hit, especially with Parkies who are boycotting The Village.