DALLAS (AP) — In a place that prides itself on doing things big, it stands to reason that Dallas' newest hot spot for dining isn't just one restaurant but a new development of nearly a dozen at the foot of a soaring bridge that is the city's newest landmark.
But the restaurants popping up in the 15-acre Trinity Groves are not your usual offerings — they are what the three investors behind the development call an "incubator." Prospective restaurateurs pitch their ideas to the investors, who fund the projects in hopes that successful concepts will spawn locations across the country.
"In essence, what we're doing down here is we're creating brands," said Trinity Groves investor Phil Romano, the man behind national restaurant concepts including Romano's Macaroni Grill and eatZi's Market and Bakery.
"I'm looking for a point of difference, like what's going to make me go and eat their food rather than somebody else's food? Does it taste better? Does it look better? What is it? A different kind of food?" he said.
The concept has brought in a diverse array of restaurants — from barbecue to tapas to Middle Eastern to seafood to Asian-Latin fusion — over the last year and a half, transforming a rundown area filled with repair garages and warehouses to a glittering destination that greets visitors as they head out of downtown over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge spanning the Trinity River and into West Dallas.
Most of the nine restaurants that have opened so far are located in a former truck terminal that's been transformed into a lineup of sleekly-designed restaurants facing a sprawling patio for diners at each location.
Folks opening restaurants at Trinity Groves range from people who have already been in the restaurant business to first-timers. And one restaurant — Kitchen LTO — is a permanent popup that spawns a new restaurant every four months, with chefs competing on social media, pitching their concepts and menus and the public eventually deciding who to pick.