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Eatzi’s Market expanding to FW in spring

🕐 4 min read

Eatzi’s Market & Bakery

University Park Village

1540 S. University Drive

Fort Worth 76107

Not only will the much-anticipated Eatzi’s Market & Bakery open in Fort Worth’s University Park Village Shopping Center in early May (or possibly even in April), but the Dallas institution also announced that it plans to open its sixth location in the Preston Royal Village Shopping Center later this year, possibly in October.

Like Eatzi’s four existing stores, both of the new ones will offer a variety of chef-prepared meals including grilled meats and seafood, fresh sushi, custom sandwiches and salads, deli meats and cheeses, pastries and desserts. All dishes are prepared daily from scratch by Eatzi’s team of chefs.

The Eatzi’s Grill offers daily specials that are hot and ready to eat, along with a “Grab and Go” section for those seeking self-serve convenience. The Eatzi’s Cafe serves coffee and espresso, which are also for sale to make at home.

In addition to chef-made meals, there are more than 45 varieties of artisan breads and sweet treats baked daily right in the market. Eatzi’s also offers more than 130 varieties of exotic meats and cheeses in the deli, more than 450 wines and a vast selection of both craft and classic beers. Eatzi’s has beer and wine experts on hand who can help customers choose the best options to pair with their meal.

The market also features seasonal holiday menus and large platters for festive occasions, and it has long been a go-to for small self-catered events and family gatherings.

Dallas restaurateur Philip J. Romano opened the first Eatzi’s in 1996 on Oak Lawn Avenue in a joint venture with Brinker International Restaurants. Foodies flocked to the offerings and Eatzi’s became a huge success. Then Romano’s team started an aggressive expansion, opening stores in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., as well as two locations in New York.

Unfortunately, the expansion was perhaps too rapid, and several locations failed, leading the company to scale all the way back to just its original Oak Lawn location in Dallas.

Then Eatzi’s was purchased by a Boston-based private equity group, Castanea Partners. Another expansion was attempted, with disastrous results. The model was altered to become more like a grocery store, with impulse items stocked near the check-out counter. As labor costs were scaled back, service declined, and ultimately Eatzi’s wound up in bankruptcy.

Since rejoining Eatzi’s in 2011, CEO Adam Romo has brought the business back from the edge of collapse and placed it on a steady, strategic growth path. “The exact same key elements that made us a success 20 years ago are even more valued today. That has allowed us to remain current and fresh,” said Romo.

Eatzi’s is best known for five elements, said Romo. High quality is paramount, which is why it offers samples so customers can taste the difference. Variety is also a big draw, with over 4,000 items in its database. Some have been in high demand from the beginning, while about 60 percent of today’s menu consists of items introduced in the past five years.

Convenience is another key to success and this includes well-trained service staff. Price keeps Eatzi’s competitive and it is constantly scanning the competition to be sure customers are getting a good value. Finally, what Romo calls “theater,” which sums up the experience of shopping in Eatzi’s. It is a visually stimulating and lively atmosphere with samples being offered and opera singers or Christmas carolers serenading shoppers.

So why did it take so long to open an Eatzi’s in Fort Worth?

“I would have loved to have been in Fort Worth years ago, but you have to be disciplined and patient to wait for the absolute best site, which only became available recently,” Romo said. It took three years and he evaluated over 25 other locations, before pulling the trigger on the University Park Village site.

“The shift toward the fast-casual dining trend is here to stay,” said Romo. “Time is a luxury most of us don’t have, and consumers are increasingly searching for a quality, convenient meal solution rather than cooking at home or committing the time required to dine at a full-service restaurant. Residents of Fort Worth understand good food and value. They have very discerning tastes,” he said. “I expect this store to open in a big way.”

All Eatzi’s stores serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Store hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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