Landry's to Buy Morton's: Here's Our Wish List for Its Rebirth
Houston-based restaurateur Tilman Fertitta of Landry's Inc. has acquired 90 percent of Morton's shares, he announced Wednesday, reports Chicago Business. The purchase means he'll own Morton's without shareholders' approval. Shareholders had been trying to block the purchase because they believed the stocks were undervalued.
In Florida, Morton's resides in Boca Raton, Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, and West Palm. Eater reports that the Miami Beach location shuttered in today's news. Currently, there are more than 70 Morton's in 26 states.
Landry's started as Landry's Seafood House in Katy, Texas, and Willie G's Seafood and Steak House
in Houston. It's the company behind the Houston and Denver Aquariums,
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Rainforest Cafe, and Oceanaire Seafood Room in
Washington, D.C. Most recently, the company bought McCormick & Schmick's.
Fertitta promised Morton's will be "refreshed and modernized" under his ownership. Yet we wonder if that's the case, considering the track record of the current holdings. In this area, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Rainforest Cafe are not exactly beloved.
Though we're not expecting a dazzling transformation, we can dream. That's what a wish list is for, right? After the jump, our five points.
5) Hire and train local characters
Personalize steak-house culture by hiring as many locals with charisma for the front of the house. Train them in knowing about the area, particularly in places that are tourist destinations. Carving that as a signature of Morton's can lure visitors.
4) Update the design
Choose a known designer -- as Jose Andres has -- and come up with a signature look that's more exciting than the God's-waiting-room-meets-'80s-men's-club motif.
3) Get in on the heirloom and local thing
Find and support a collection of farms like Ayrshire -- raising heirloom breeds of pig and cattle -- and make it your thing. It's not so out of the question since Miami corporate hotels are doing it for pigs and buying whole hogs. While we're at it, support local fish vendors and promote local seafood, perhaps a fancier place than Southport Raw Bar, and offer raw oysters from the Gulf.
2) Promote the chef at each restaurant
Wolfgang Puck does it. Michael Mina does it. Pioneer the area's chef-driven cuisine by hiring and touting a progressive chef. Promoting individual chefs helps drives the area's cuisine and culls loyalty with locals.
1) Find a soul
Whether it's here or Miami, we've got enough corporate steak houses in
town. What we don't have are steak houses with soul. Take a tour of
places like Doe's Eat Place in Greenville, Mississippi, for direction. We know it's asking a lot, but find a way to infuse a soul.
Anything to add to the list? Add your suggestions in the comments.
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