I’m Sorry it took me so long to see the light.
Fort Worth’s Capital Grille is a chain. As an independent restaurateur for 30 years I typically don’t spend much time in chain restaurants unless I’m at the airport. When I moved to the T&P Lofts in 2011 downtown Fort Worth was bustling with great places to eat and new ones were opening at a steady pace. Some of the decent chain restaurants like Ruth’s Chris, Cantina Laredo and Mi Cocina had been here awhile and the new Capital Grille on Main Street was preparing to open. Capital Grille is a part of the Specialty Restaurant Group division of Darden Restaurants. With over 50 Capital Grille locations across the country Darden also operates Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouses, Yard House, Seasons 52 and, until recently Red Lobster which was sold off and replaced with the more upscale Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. So as far as chain restaurants go the Capital Grille is in a pretty good company of brands (and while the Olive Garden is not one of my favorites they ARE one of the best-managed concepts in the nation by almost any measure).
So I walked right by, over and over again, never even having a vague desire to go inside. It just never occurred to me. When I began dating my wife Donna, I think she had a gift card… so one day we went in for lunch. It was good, just as I expected. There is a lot of good food in Fort Worth, so I won’t say that the food is what caught my attention. The decor is very nice; clubby and sophisticated but not too intimidating if you aren’t dressed up. The dining room has some areas that lend themselves more to festive celebrations with a big group and other spots where a couple can have a romantic meal. Then there’s the bar, where Donna and I nearly always go because we just don’t really want to dress up to eat on a weeknight. I’d have to say, however that what sold me on this restaurant, where we go very often now to drink wine, eat steaks or even go vegan when the mood is right is the service.
Capital Grille of Fort Worth has some superstar employees who take care of the guests with enthusiasm and delight. While having a stellar crew is no small feat (I can personally attest to this), there is something even more impressive about the operation. Culture. In any business, culture is probably the most difficult aspect of success to attain, so much so that many companies don’t even really try. I didn’t mean to dis the food before, it’s really very good… I think it just seems so much less important in comparison to the way everyone treats the guests in this restaurant. I always expect to be treated politely in any restaurant, and most of the time a shade above indifference would even meet with my expectations. Do I ever expect to be made to feel truly special or important when dining out? Not really. Well I do when I come here. This kind of guest experience is what typically gives a sharp independent restaurateur an upper hand when it comes to customer service. Chains will always have a tough time replicating the genuine feeling of humble appreciation that an independent restaurant owner and staff have for their clientele. A restaurant company that takes the time to instill a culture of humility, excellence and good will along with the necessary systems and management support to deliver these gifts effectively to the customer has accomplished something really great.
When you buy condo or townhouse in downtown Fort Worth from Fort Worth Texas Real Estate you’ll get a nice gift card to Capital Grille from Tim & Donna Young. I can’t think of a better way to thank you for the privilege of being your agent than to steer you toward a fine meal and a staff that will make you want to return again and again. I always recommend that my clients ask for Lety in the dining room or Alex if they sit at the bar. General Manager Gloria Starling will be around to check on you without fail and Chef Derek Venutolo might even deliver your meal.