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Restaurant Chain Eddie Merlot’s Looking To Go National

June 13, 2014

The Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Eddie Merlot’s restaurant chain, which operates 10 locations in the Midwest, is poised to go national. The prime steakhouse concept, which opened its latest restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh this spring, is currently readying an 11th location in the Denver suburb of Englewood, Colorado, expected to launch by November. Company founder and CEO William Humphries said additional units are planned for suburban Washington, D.C. (near Dulles Airport), Scottsdale, Arizona, and Miami Beach and Orlando, Florida. A new location in the Chicago market, downtown in the River North neighborhood, is also being negotiated, Humphries added.

Founded in 2001, Eddie Merlot’s initially targeted such cities as Indianapolis, Louisville, Columbus, Ohio, and Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Each location spans about 10,000 square feet, with seating for up to 350 and average annual sales of $5 million, of which about 30% is in beverages. The average check per person is $80. The wine list encompasses 275 labels in each restaurant, with inventory exceeding 3,000 bottles.

“We’re ready to move beyond the Midwest into other markets that we feel will be applicable to us,” said Humphries. “Our plans are for three to four new locations a year going forward.” Humphries adds that the company’s commitment to wine is stronger than ever. This summer each restaurant will run a “Let it Flow” promotion offering an array of wine flights, including a red flight of four labels—all rated 91 or higher by Wine Spectator—in 1.5-ounce pours for $24, as well as a flight of three white labels—all rated 90 or higher—for $11. Humphries is also known as a Subway franchisee: he has developed 750 of the sandwich stores in Indiana and Ohio.

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