Duffy’s Sports Grill is going long with plans to expand the Palm Beach Gardens based sports restaurant chain.

Posted July 9, 2014 | No Comments.


 

 

 

PALM BEACH GARDENS —

Duffy’s Sports Grill is going long with plans to expand the Palm Beach Gardens-based sports restaurant chain.

The homegrown eatery just signed a deal to open its first Orlando restaurant. More restaurants are planned, said Duffy’s owner Paul Emmett.

The restaurant is rebounding with the South Florida economy. Business is strong at the company’s 23 eateries, 13 of which are in Palm Beach County, he said.

But a successful company needs to grow in order the concept fresh and its top employees interested, Emmett said.

New stores in the region aren’t a possibility.

“We’ve run out of space in Southeast Florida,” Emmett said. “We have a store every 15 minutes from Port St. Lucie down to North Miami Beach.”

Hence, Orlando.

Richard Lackey, a Palm Beach Gardens restaurant broker who handled the deal, said Duffy’s will take space near the Mall at Millenia, in a space formerly occupied by another restaurant. A September opening is planned.

(Mall at Millenia, incidentally, is owned by the Forbes Co., which ownsThe Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens.)

Plans are to add at least 30 more eateries in Florida, at a clip of four this year, five in 2015, six in 2016.

In general, the plan is to try to open one every other month, Emmett said.

In Orlando, plans are to open three to five restaurants to make TV advertising more cost-effective and enable a manager to oversee a group of restaurants. Naples is on the radar. A location in Estero, near Fort Myers, already is picked out.

Duffy’s, which launched in 1985 in Lake Park, is known for taking space in shuttered restaurant sites.(Emmett came aboard in 2001 when there were only four restaurants.)

When Duffy’s takes over a space, TVs are added, walls are repainted green and the Duffy’s signature family-friendly fare and MVP reward club cards are rolled out.

An ambitious plan to gobble up Roadhouse Grill’s eateries was costly for Duffy’s, or, as Emmett dryly described it, “a financial train wreck.”

The company paid $29 million for the Roadhouse Grill, with 57 sites at the time, but then sold the chain after only a few months due to the tight credit market and the then-struggling dining scene. Duffy’s held on to only three former Roadhouse locations.

But Emmett said Duffy’s has recovered from the acquisition. Now it has the bank financing and strategy to expand. Employment is growing, too. About 33 people are in the corporate office, he said. Companywide, Duffy’s employs about 2,000.

At that size, Duffy’s is bound to attract attention from suitors, but Emmett and partner Carlos Morrison, Fisher Body Co. heir, aren’t interested in selling. “We both want to grow the business internally,” Emmett said.



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