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5 new restaurants opening this year in ‘dining theme park’ Trinity Groves

By fall, Trinity Groves in West Dallas might be able to hang a “no vacancy” sign. The restaurant site has just a few storefronts left, and restaurateur and investor Phil Romano hopes new eateries will fill existing open spaces by August.

Trinity Groves is a first-of-its-kind development in Dallas where Romano and a team of investors part-own many of the restaurants. Their support helps chefs launch new businesses in an established area. In turn, investors can actively watch their “incubator” restaurants with the hope that some will spawn national business.

Romano should know a thing or two about growing businesses: He started Eatzi’s, Macaroni Grill, Fuddruckers and many other restaurants that have expanded well beyond one location.

Romano and his team maintain the right to close restaurants in Trinity Groves that don’t succeed. Didi’s Tamale Diner opened in late November and closed the last day in January. Diners didn’t patronize it enough, Romano said; it was the first casualty in the complex.

“We’re an incubator. We try them out and if they don’t work, we close them,” Romano said. He plans to focus less on restaurants with counter service, since diners at Trinity Groves seem to want to be seated and served, he said.

The master plan for Trinity Groves includes more than 80 acres of development in West Dallas, a neighborhood that previously was not considered a hotbed for new business. If the development goes Romano’s way, Trinity Groves will be similar to West Village: It’ll have restaurants (of which more than a dozen are already open), plus housing, hotels and retail. The next phase calls for 300 apartments.

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