Phil Romano’s recipe for success


Fuddruckers.Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Cozymel’s. These are some of the 25-plus restaurant concepts that Phil Romano, 75, has created, producing some $1.5 billion in annual sales. (There have been some flops too, including a lobster restaurant in Dallas.) Romano, who survived malignant lymphoma, has branched into other realms. His latest is Trinity Groves, an incubator to cultivate restaurant concepts for millennials. He’s also an artist whose paintings sell for up to $26,000 in a Dallas gallery that he co-owns. Romano’s story:

I never worked in a restaurant until I owned one. I’m a first-generation Italian American from upstate New York. Till I was 12, I didn’t think anyone existed except Italians and Catholics. My father was an electrician with a sixth-grade education. My mother was a housewife.

I was in the Army Reserves during college. I got into martial arts to keep in shape. In 1960 I was attending Florida…

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