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Del Frisco’s Grille jettisons a unit

del friscos grille palm beach

The fledgling Del Frisco’s Grille chain has shut its unit in Palm Beach, Fla., a reflection of the concept’s financial drain on parent-company Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group.

The 21-unit Grille brand, a lower-priced riff on the company’s namesake steakhouse, has not delivered the broader market the Group had hoped to draw. Sales at Grille units open for at least 12 months fell year-over-year by 3.5 percent during the third quarter, prompting the Group to throttle back expansion and focus on operations.

The company recently promoted Ray Risley, one of the Grille’s developers, to the position of senior vice president of operations for that brand. His mission is to find the traction with customers that has so far eluded the venture.

Risley, formerly VP of Del Frisco’s Sullivan’s steak chain, assumed the duties of Jeff Carcara, who had resigned earlier in the year to become CEO of the Barcelona tapas concept.

Management has acknowledged that the Grille concept is perceived as being more upscale than it actually is. Executives have also cited slow service as a problem for the brand.

"Despite our best effort, we were not able to make the Palm Beach Del Frisco's Grille restaurant as successful as other Grille locations," Mark S. Mednansky, CEO of Del Frisco's Restaurant Group, said in a statement. "We have therefore chosen to take decisive action to close the location so that we can focus on more profitable opportunities. We continue to have complete confidence in the Grille concept and are looking forward to opening new restaurants in carefully selected locations."

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