Romacorp Inc., which does business as Tony Roma's, is an American casual dining chain restaurant specializing in baby back ribs, although outlets in Muslim-majority countries do not offer this item. The first location was established by the founder in 1972 in North Miami, Florida. Clint Murchison Jr. purchased a majority stake in the restaurant in 1976, and he and Roma established the jointly owned Roma Corporation. The first international location opened in 1979 in Tokyo, followed by an international expansion with both company-owned stores and franchises. As of 2018, there are over 150 locations on six continents.
|Founded||North Miami, Florida (1972)|
|Brad Scher (CEO)|
|Products||ribs, steak, chicken, and seafood|
|Website||Tony Roma's U.S.|
Tony Roma, the driving force and namesake behind the casual dining eatery, opened the first Tony Roma's in North Miami on January 20, 1972. Prior to opening his self-named restaurant, Tony Roma was the food and beverage specialist for the Playboy Club.
Originally a steak and burger restaurant, one weekend, chef David Smith grilled baby back ribs and served them with Tony Roma's BBQ sauce. The ribs proved to be popular, and were added to the permanent menu, and quickly became what Tony Roma's was known for. Tony Roma's menu has further expanded to include seafood, pasta, chicken, and sandwiches.
Four years later, in 1976, Clint Murchison Jr., the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was in Miami for Super Bowl X. Murchison purchased the majority stake in the restaurant, going on to become the driving force behind Tony Roma's international expansion. Murchison and Roma established Roma Corporation, a jointly-owned company that oversaw the restaurants and sold franchises.
In 1979, the first international location opened in Tokyo, Japan and by 1983; there were 30 Tony Roma's restaurants around the world. During the mid-1980s, Roma Corp's growth plan included opening more franchises, rather than company-owned stores.
Murchison sold his shares in Roma Corp to his children in 1984, and Kenneth Reimer, a Murchison business associate, took over as CEO of Roma. Tony Roma himself also sold his interest in the company to the Murchison children.
Under Reimer, Tony Roma's expanded, growing the menu, opening more locations, and remodeling older restaurants for a more modern feel. In 2002, Frank Steed took over as CEO and president of Roma Corp and David Grail became head of menu development. Steed signed agreements to open an additional 60 Tony Roma's across South America, Europe, and the Middle East.
As of 2006, there were 1,725 employees.
Menu and retail productsEdit
When the first Tony Roma's opened in the 1970s, the restaurant was known for its burger and steaks until chef David Smith cooked up some baby back ribs and they became popular. Today the menu includes ribs, burgers, and steaks, as well as chicken and seafood dishes, appetizers, vegetarian dishes, desserts, and a cocktail list. Many international locations provide additional options that conform to local customs. Tony Roma's menu is routinely updated with specials, new chef-created dishes, and seasonal cuisines. In 2015, Roma Corp's introduced a new concept, new concept TR Fire Grill & Lounge, in Orlando, Florida featuring modern American cuisine and modern cocktails.
A number of entrees from the Tony Roma's menu are available as prepackaged frozen meals, sold in supermarkets. The entrees are manufactured and distributed by Rupari Food Services. Tony Roma's original barbecue sauce is also available in supermarkets.
In 1976, Tony Roma's was one of the first US chain restaurants to expand into the international market, opening their first store in Japan. During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Tony Roma's expanded into Europe, South America, Australia and Asia. Tony Roma's has also expanded to the Middle East, including the UAE, where the prince of Dubai, Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, dines. As of 2015, Tony Roma's had around 120 international stores spread across five continents, with 20 restaurants in the United States. The franchise introduced a brand makeover in 2016 with a new store model.
As of 2016, the only location near New York City was inside Newark Liberty International Airport, after the Commack branch closed as part of a downsizing. There also remained a location in Niagara Falls at the time. The closure left 20 locations in the United States, with most remaining restaurants international. In 2018, the company opened its first US franchise in six years, and also its first new US restaurant since 2014.
Tony Roma's is consistently opening new restaurants in emerging markets. In 2015, Tony Roma's became one of the first US-based restaurants to open a store in Myanmar. As of 2018, Tony Roma's had "new licensing deals in the United States, Europe, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand" and "new development agreements in Spain, Nicaragua and Bolivia."
Countries and territories with restaurantsEdit
- John Brisco, President
- Bob Gallagher, Senior VP Creative Services
- Ramon Bourgeois, Vice President Global Franchise.
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