Three Reasons Why Tony Roma’s Is a Great Fit for the Dallas-Fort Worth Area

Experienced entrepreneurs will want a piece of this iconic brand

There are two types of people in the world: those that know about Tony Roma’s mouthwatering ribs and those that are about to get to know those mouthwatering ribs. Then again, we’re a little bit biased about the signature dish we’ve been serving up for the past 45 years.

We know you will feel the same way once you’ve experienced Tony Roma’s. With more than 150 restaurants in over 30 countries, the legendary brand that brought baby back ribs to the fast casual restaurant scene is poised for franchise development in the U.S., and specifically to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Dallas, Ft WorthDallas, Ft Worth – Robert and Talbot Trudeau via Flikr Creative Commons

Why, you might ask, when Texas is near synonymous with the food genre of barbecue? That’s because Tony Roma’s is much more than ribs. First, Tony Roma is as legendary as his restaurants. He hung out with the likes of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., and personally took the call from the White House for a takeout order after President Ronald Reagan’s Inaugural Ball. Tony loved a good time, good food, and serving generations of loyal Tony Roma’s customers.

Today, that spirit lives on as the foundation for a dining concept backed by a leadership team who knows a thing or two about building strong restaurant brands. And, if that’s not enough for you, here are three more reasons to bring Tony Roma’s to DFW.

Everything is bigger in Texas

When people say everything is bigger in Texas, it is no cliché. The skies are bigger, the cities are bigger, and so are the appetites. People love Texas and they are moving there in droves to take advantage the business-friendly economy and affordable cost of living.

According to, major Texas cities such as Dallas and Fort Worth — also in the top 20 largest cities in the U.S. — are expected to lead the nation in continuing to attract employers and subsequently their employees, all of whom are potential diners. The latest statistics show more than 200 people move to the area a day.

Tony Roma’s thrives in major metropolitan areas, shopping malls, and secondary markets. A sweet spot for the restaurants is also high foot traffic and areas with about 120,000 people. The restaurants also work well in a variety of location types, including freestanding units and spaces at the end of a strip shopping center.

There is a stability and expertise in the Tony Roma brand

Tony Roma launched the original concept as “Tony Roma’s Place” in North Miami, Florida, in 1972. The restaurant was known as a great neighborhood bar where you could always find good music, delicious steaks and waitresses wearing go-go boots.

It was Chef David Smith’s casual thought to throw a rack of ribs on the grill slathered in his secret sauce that would forever change the restaurant. What was a temporary addition to the menu became a mainstay, and customers fell in love with the baby back ribs and came from all over to get them.

Whenever Dallas Cowboys’ owner Clint Murchison Jr. was in Miami, he’d stop in at Tony Roma’s. He finally bought the restaurant concept in 1976, and domestic expansion began. New restaurants opened in Tennessee, Texas, California, Nevada, New York and Hawaii.

Later, throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000, Tony Roma’s expanded globally. Today, our restaurants are mainstays in Canada, Japan, and Latin America.

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“We boast great name recognition and have a reputation for being one of the best bets in the upscale casual dining, full-service restaurant category, thanks to 40-plus years of customer and emotional connections,” says Stephen K. Judge, CEO of Romacorp, Inc. “Our brand conjures up amazing positive memories for people. Do not underestimate the brand affinity of Tony Roma’s.”

We are here for the food and keeping up with what diners love

At the end of the day, it is all about the food, and customers have been making Tony Roma’s a part of their dining experience for over 40 years. That’s a lot of street cred.

Those that remember the food from back in the day can still enjoy those mouthwatering baby back ribs and some new dishes too. After Chef Smith retired, the leadership team brought on Executive Chef Bob Gallagher, who brought to the menu dishes such as the Kickin’ Shrimp and the Pastrami Ribs that attract younger diners, and a new generation of Tony Roma’s fans.

“People want to eat smaller portions and customize their dining experience, and we’re offering them just that. Our International Drive restaurant (in Orlando, Florida) introduces new concepts, such as our ‘Bones, Bites and Brews’ menu. We have 20 beers on tap, including many craft beers, and customers can order a wide variety of ribs including baby back ribs, St Louis ribs, lamb ribs, buffalo crispy ribs, and pastrami ribs, and be able to fully customize the dining experience. We look forward to creating memories for future generations for the next 40-plus years,” Stephen says.

Learn more here about owning a Tony Roma’s restaurant

The total investment for launching a Tony Roma’s restaurant is in the $1.9 million to $3 million range, depending on the location, size and type of restaurant. A typical location is in the neighborhood of 6,000 square feet.

Who are we looking for? Sophisticated operators with:

  • Minimum $3 million net worth (not including residences, automobiles and other personal assets)
  • Of that net worth, $1 million should be liquid (i.e., cash or easily convertible assets)
  • Equity group buying affiliation
  • Previous restaurant and/or hospitality experience
  • A passion for people, hospitality, food and the Tony Roma’s brand
  • Personnel and financial management knowledge, as well as marketing and business development expertise

Would you like to learn more about investing in an iconic American upscale casual dining concept with untapped domestic growth opportunities? Our new leadership has unveiled an exciting brand refresh, and we have a proven track record of unprecedented brand affinity with passionate fans worldwide. We are looking for business owners, particularly multi-unit operators, who love food and people. Our new leadership is focused on aggressive U.S. and Canadian expansion over the next five to 10 years. Click here to read through our research pages or request more information about opening a Tony Roma’s franchise.