Restaurateurs share why they chose Plano

Large corporations aren’t the only ones moving their businesses to Plano

According to recent statistics gathered by the city’s Environmental Health Department, floods of restaurateurs are claiming territory in the booming city.

“Restaurant owners I have spoken to said they chose downtown Plano for their locations because they knew it would become the next great neighborhood destination in North Texas,” said Alex Hargis, Historic Downtown Plano Association executive director. “They've seen it happen in Deep Ellum, Bishop Arts and Fort Worth's West 7th, so they know what to look for. They knew downtown Plano would be next." 

Plano has 409 full-service restaurants. With 100,136 households in Plano, that means four full-service restaurants per 10,000 households, which is more than San Francisco’s 39.3, as reported by the Huffington Post.

The city has 1,021 total eateries, also including corporate dining, mega-stores like Sam’s and Costco, grocery stores, specialty stores, coffee shops, fast food, sandwich shops/delis, ice-cream stores, full-service bakeries, hot trucks and full-service hotels.

That equates to an average of about 102 restaurants per every 10,000 households.

In particular, Legacy West is attracting new concepts and even some stapled in other large metroplexes. For example, popular fashion retailer Tommy Bahama has rented a building at Legacy West for a combination store, restaurant and bar.

Dubbing them Tommy Bahama Island store, the company operates one such location a year. Others are in Hawaii, Tokyo, New York City, Las Vegas, Orlando and 10 other spots around the U.S.

New York chef Daniel Meyer’s Shake Shack will open its second Texas location in the Plano  development. Shake Shack has a location on South Lamar in Austin, plus spots in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, London and elsewhere.

In addition, Phoenix-based chef Sam Fox’s Fox Restaurant Concepts will locate North Italia and True Food Kitchen restaurants at Legacy West.

“We chose this city for obvious reasons,” said Russell Owens, president of Fox Restaurant Concepts. “It’s a vibrant city with a growing mix of office and residential space. Legacy West is a unique area that is attractive to the restaurant industry.

“With all the corporations, it brings in business from executives and clients. Also, with the millennials and young families, we get big dinners and reservations. Its location is ideal as a broad regional center.”

Dallas restaurateur Alberto Lombardi of Lombardi Family Concepts has rented three locations in Legacy West. The Lombardi family will locate their Taverna, Bistro 31 and Toulouse restaurants in the project. Other Dallas concepts such as Smoke, owned by Tim Byers, and Lockhart Smokehouse, owned by Jeff Bergus, have planted their newest locations in Plano.

New restaurant concepts such as Hickory, Whiskey Cake, Mexican Sugar, and Julia Pearl Southern Cuisine have also made Plano their home.

“I have been watching people’s habits, and it all comes down to a couple things: time and convenience,” said Kent Rathbun, owner of Hickory and Jasper’s in Plano. “People don’t like to drink and drive. That has changed everyone’s perspective on nice dinner and wine. They want to be close to home.

“We keep hearing people say, ‘We don’t have to drive to Dallas anymore.’”

Jasper’s, a restaurant with a gourmet twist on a backyard cookout, has been in Plano for 13 years. It has seen businesses come and go and was at one time considered the city’s primary high-end restaurant, according to Rathbun. Competition was not as fierce back then, but things have changed. Though the area is ideal for business, Rathbun expressed concerns about saturation.

“When I hear how many restaurants there are compared to households, I think that at some point those numbers need to balance out,” Rathbun said. “I mean, in an environment with so many businesses, we have to strive to stay on top. Every single restaurant that opens takes a little chunk out of everybody else’s business.

“But it makes it even more challenging and motivating. I look at it as an opportunity to make sure we’re doing the right thing all the time.” (3/26/2016) 

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