Reginelli's to move beyond Louisiana

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Martin added that the Commander’s Palace owners had considered other casual-dining options. “We had been looking for a long time at opportunities not in fine-dining but in the very casual end,” she said. “Frankly, we thought we might muck it up, coming from sommeliers and white table cloths. We truly have admired Reginelli’s from afar for a long time. That’s how we started talking after mom grabbed him by the collar.”

As they discussed the possible partnership further, Martin said, it became clear the two companies shared philosophies. “We found out the culture of their company was so similar to ours: just focused on absolute, unrelenting standards with the food — and passion for it — and also they way they work as a team and leadership style and a commitment to the guest,” Martin said.

A point of differentiation is the décor of Reginelli’s, which Martin said is “hip and cool and very appealing," adding, "I don’t think we could improve on that.”

Reginelli said that the décor package debuted with the third pizzeria, which opened about four years after the first one. The modern décor has remained, featuring “classic, contemporary Italian with clean lines,” Reginelli said, “with some of the pastels of ‘40s and ‘50s in the style of the classic Vespa. That really has never gone out of style.”

Best sellers on the menu include pizzas and salads, he added. “The pizzas sell very well across the board, but a grilled chicken salad with balsamic-citrus vinaigrette with roasted pecans and Gorgonzola cheese with fresh field greens is by far out best-selling salad,” Reginelli said.

Going forward, the partners are looking for sites in Houston, where Ti Martin’s brother, Alex Brennan-Martin, operates Brennan’s of Houston and Bistro Alex.

Commander’s Palace chef Tory McPhail has already worked a bit with Reginelli’s menu and drinks program, which includes beer, wine and mixed cocktails. “Since we signed the partnership, we’ve developed a couple of really great cocktails and frozen drinks,” Reginelli said.

In related expansion updates, Martin said she still expects SoBou, the drinks-intensive Commander's Palace spin-off being built in the W New Orleans French Quarter, to be open by June.

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