Restaurant impresario Phil Romano has created a new fast-casual potato restaurant concept that’s something of a smash from day one.

Romano, who has created such restaurants as Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Fuddruckers and Eatzi’s Market & Bakery, bases his new Potato Flats concept on white potatoes and sweet potatoes that are smashed into a flat plate and topped with a variety of add-ons.

The new restaurant, which opened Tuesday, became the 10th eatery to open in the Trinity Groves restaurant incubator, just west of downtown Dallas. Romano is a creator and investor in Potato Flats, as well as Hofmann Hots, a hot dog restaurant. The other incubator restaurants were created by separate entrepreneurs.


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A look inside Potato Flats
Slide show

Ordering at Potato Flats with Phil Romano

Video

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“I woke up in the middle of the night and I thought this is what it should be,” Romano said at the Potato Flats opening.

He said he looked at the success of Chipotle putting prepared ingredients on a tortilla and envisioned a similar construct with a flattened potato as the base.

“I thought we could do that out of frying pans on a potato,” Romano said. “It’s gluten free and has great nutritional value. We’ve smashed the potato down flat, and people can put it together.”

A choice of white or sweet potato with one protein (turkey, chicken breast, sausage, meat loaf, chili, ground beef, steak or fish chowder) and a choice of three vegetables, including carrots, peas, broccoli, corn and mushrooms, is priced at $9.75. Regular potatoes are priced at $5.75. The white potato is served with butter, sour cream, chives and cheese; the sweet potato is served with caramel, pecan and marshmallow. Salt and pepper, the menu board states, are free. A fried baked potato is priced at $5.75 and served in American, Mexican and Italian versions.
 
Romano, who is a partner in Trinity Groves and creator of concepts including Spageddies, Cozymel’s, and Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ, said customers can create their own potato or choose from chef-created daily specials that include Thanksgiving Everyday, with a choice of potato, sliced turkey, gravy, roasted carrots, peas, corn and cranberry relish; or the Italiano, with a choice of potato, Italian sausage, Alfredo sauce, roasted carrots, peas, diced tomato, bacon and snipped chives.
 
Romano noted that potatoes are a good source of vitamins and nutrients, such as iron, and they are high in fiber and fat free.

Like other restaurants in the incubator, Potato Flats covers about 2,500 square feet and includes an area for covered patio dining. The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Romano said he and his investors have been pleased with the development of Trinity Groves, which will also include retail and residential development.

“The response from people has been tremendous,” Romano said. “We want everyone to do at least a million or a million an a half [in annual dollar sales], and most are doing better than that.”

Romano said he expects the Trinity Groves incubator to have 18 to 19 restaurants by the end of this year.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless