Larry Foles and Guy Villavaso, longtime fixtures on the Austin restaurant scene, could have taken it easy after they sold their Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Wildfish Seafood Grille restaurants. Darden Restaurants Inc., owner of Red Lobster, Olive Garden and other popular restaurant chains, bought the two Foles-Villavaso restaurant brands in November 2011 for $59 million in cash.
Foles and Villavaso aren’t taking it easy, though. In fact, they have plenty on their business plate, including the expansion of one existing restaurant concept and the introduction of another.
Let’s start with the biggest project that they’re biting into now — the birth of another restaurant chain.
Foles and Villavaso opened Hopdoddy Burger Bar in October 2010 on South Congress Avenue in partnership with Austin restaurateurs Larry Perdido and Chuck Smith. But it soon won’t be the sole location.
Among the highlights of Hopdoddy’s menu are Black Angus burgers, freshly baked buns, hand-cut fries and handcrafted beer.
Through their spokeswoman, Foles and Villavaso say that another Hopdoddy is set to open in late April in North Austin, at West Anderson Lane and Burnet Road. A tentative October opening date is scheduled for a Hopdoddy in Dallas, and negotiations are under way for a location in Scottsdale, Ariz. Among the highlights of Hopdoddy’s menu are Black Angus burgers, freshly baked buns, hand-cut fries and handcrafted beer.
Meanwhile, Foles and Villavaso’s new Salty Sow restaurant concept is supposed to debut in May in Austin. Details about the Salty Sow menu haven’t been revealed.
Foles and Villavaso are also fine-tuning the menu at their four Roaring Fork restaurants — two in Austin, one in San Antonio and one in Scottsdale, Ariz. Through their spokeswoman, the two indicate that they plan “to develop and improve the Roaring Fork for an even better dining experience.”
Orlando, Fla.-based Darden, a $7.5 billion restaurant conglomerate, now will develop the Eddie V’s and Wildfish brands. Eddie V’s has eight locations in Texas, Arizona and California, and Wildfish has three locations in the same three states. Foles and Villavaso founded Eddie V’s in 2000; five years later, they rolled out the Wildfish brand.
The two men, who also founded the Z’Tejas restaurant chain, will be consultants to Darden for two years. Foles lives in Austin and Villavaso in Scottsdale.
In a statement released when the Eddie V’s and Wildfish acquisition was announced, Foles and Villavaso said: “Darden’s culture and resources will enable Eddie V’s and Wildfish to prosper in a highly competitive industry.”
As demonstrated by their continued entrepreneurial streak, Foles and Villavaso are still striving to keep prospering in the highly competitive restaurant industry as well.