Houston, get ready for a new fast-casual pizza concept from one of the most accomplished and discerning restaurant families in America. Siblings Ti Adelaide Martin and Alex Brennan-Martin of Commander's Palace in New Orleans and Brennan's of Houston are joining forces with Reginelli's , based in the Big Easy, to open Reginelli's in Houston. The first store will be in the home of the former Gugliani's in the Memorial neighborhood.
The new Reginelli's, the first outside Louisiana, is expected to open before Thanksgiving. Martin said it will be the first of several Reginelli's in Houston.
"We hope to do a bunch in Houston," Martin said of the pizza brand, adding that there's a market for Reginelli's fast-casual pizza. "We think you're under-pizza-ed." The partners currently are looking for a location in the Heights.
Reginelli's Pizzeria was established in New Orleans in 1996 by Darryl Reginelli and his partner Bruce Erhardt. A successful operation, Reginelli's has grown to seven stores in the Greater New Orleans area. The Brennan's family chose to partner with Reginelli's for expansion outside New Orleans; their first partnership is a Reginelli's that opened in Baton Rouge earlier this year (more stores are planned for Baton Rouge). The first expansion outside Louisiana is the new Houston store.
Martin said the Commander's Palace owners have been looking to invest in a casual-dining concept and were impressed by the Reginelli's food and business model.
"His company culture is very similar to ours," Martin said of Darryl Reginelli's business. "He's like the Commander's Palace of pizza. He knows what he is. He's a pizzeria with a quality operation."
The new business partners have not made changes to Reginelli's simple menu of hand-tossed pizza, salad, baked pasta dinners and appetizers.
"This model works in every way. I'm not going to mess with it," Martin said.
She did tweak the menu in one respect, though: the new Reginelli's will have a better wine list focused on offerings from Italian wine regions.
When asked if a pizzeria would diminish the Commander's Palace/Brennan's brand of upscale fine dining, Martin responded: "Danny Meyer -- Shake Shack" (referencing the owner of the highly successful and popular Union Square Hospitality Group owner's foray into a chain of burger restaurants).
Darryl Reginelli said the new out-of-state expansions will not differ, menu-wise, from the original concept. But some new appetizers are being considered as well as a revamped wine menu.
"I think we have one of the best wine lists at a pizzeria in the country," he said.
He added that other Texas cities are being considered for new stores as well as the Florida panhandle area.
Reginelli said the partnership with the Brennan's feels natural. "They understand and agree with our business model," he said. "Everything we do is irrelevant unless the customer sees a benefit.