Restaurant Development & Design


restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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1 8 • R E S T A U R A N T D E V E L O P M E N T + D E S I G N • W I N T E R 2 0 1 4 Peer to Peer Q&A with Bill Martens Vice President, Development & Construction Del Frisco's Restaurant Group F resh out of grad school and armed with an MBA, Bill Martens launched his career in the fnance department at Yum! Brands, where he spent nine years. Midway through his tenure there, however, the development bug bit Martens and he shifted his career to that side of the business. In 2008, he joined Del Frisco's Restaurant Group (DFRG) in Southlake, Texas, as director of development and in 2011 he advanced to vice president of development and con- struction. Today, Martens heads up market planning, site selection and acquisition, and construction for the company's three high-end concepts: Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse, Del Frisco's Sullivan's Steakhouse and Del Frisco's Grille. This year's shaping up to be a busy one for Mar- tens and his team. Here's what he's up to. rd+d: Corporate fnance guy shifts to devel- opment and construction. What led to that career shift? BM: I was brought into some of the devel- opment deals at Yum! at the time, wearing my fnance hat, and found I had a strong interest in all things related to develop- ment. It might be a little unorthodox, but the more I got into it the more I discov- ered I really liked the creative aspects of development. It's a privilege to be able to work on something from conception to completion, hand it over to operations and ultimately see it be successful. rd+d: What's on the docket right now for DFRG? BM: We're targeting fve to seven new-build projects a year for the foreseeable future. For 2014, we plan on doing at least four remodels as well. Our newest concept, Del Frisco's Grille, will be our main growth vehicle. In 2013 we opened six Grilles and the bulk of our development in 2014 will be Grilles as well. We're also working on some re-concept issues at Sullivan's. Our development will take place on both coasts and points in between. There's a lot of green space out there for us. rd+d: How much of the development process at DFRG is handled internally? BM: Our team handles real estate, devel- opment, construction and facilities. Our VP of real estate and I work together on site selection and acquisition and from there my group takes care of design and construction. The group includes two construction project managers and a facilities manager. For design, we work with a number of third-party architect and design frms. At some point, we may reach the scale where it makes sense to bring in our own designer, but for now we outsource to multiple design frms. We do that in part so that our concepts aren't cookie-cutter; each should have a bit of a different personality. rd+d: Del Frisco's is known for its high- end, high-style steakhouse experience. How would you describe the design vision? BM: At Del Frisco's Double Eagle we like to think big and bold and create an atmosphere that's just 'wow!' We start by looking for dramatic spaces, from 14,000 to 18,000 square feet, with large windows. We usually include mezzanines and we always incorporate a dramatic wine feature. In Chicago, for instance, we have an amazing three-story wine tower and we have a similar feature in Fort Worth. At Sullivan's, we create a slightly more approachable, comfortable BY DANA TANYERI, Managing Editor

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