Tommy Bahama's Island vibe breezes into Plano's Legacy West
Expanding its decades-old pattern of opening largely in tourist areas, Tommy Bahama this week opened a combination restaurant and retail outlet in the new Legacy West development in business-packed Plano.
Officials with the brand, which began as a food-clothing combo more than 20 years ago, see in the Plano area a strong mix of hungry residents and corporate types, who need space for lunch meetings.
The aim of the newest Tommy Bahama Island outlet is to bring a relaxed vibe to an urban center.
"We are very careful about how we choose locations," said Rob Goldberg, executive vice president of restaurants, bars and food concepts for Seattle-based Tommy Bahama. "This is only the 18th Island worldwide.
"This is a newer model for us in terms of the setting ... with a big business community, big residential community versus our typical resort style location," added Goldberg, after bestowing a "Hawaiian blessing" on the new Plano workers.
That set off a "philosophical discussion" within the corporate ranks about settling in where people already are vacationing, versus where people may need a vacation.
"We said if our mission is to truly inspire you to relax, then maybe these [urban] locations need us more than the other ones," said Goldberg, who figures, as a conservative estimate, that he owns more than 50 Hawaiian-themed shirts.
The only location not in the South or Southwest is in Manhattan.
The proximity of so many corporate workers here figured into the company's placement decision.
The company's website notes that the restaurant/retail outlet, at 7501 Windrose Ave., is close to the newly opened North American headquarters of Toyota and FedEx Office as well as other large companies.
"We've just been watching over the years what's been happening," in terms of economic development in North Texas, said Goldberg. "We saw tremendous growth in the market, and we saw a lot of activity from a corporate perspective, companies relocating here.
"We see this path that's being carved out north of Dallas where there's just a lot of people that love Tommy Bahama."
The 9,400-square-foot Island will combine the brand's signature weekend-centric casual wear with a restaurant featuring craft beers, rum drinks and entrees such as Caribbean rubbed Mahi Mahi.
It will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week and offer a happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m.
Each of the 18 restaurants has a different design and a somewhat different menu, said Goldberg. About 40 percent of the menu is tweaked for each market.
In Plano, for example, diners can sample a Kobe beef hot dog with house-roasted pork, spicy mayo and sriracha mustard.[Interior of the Tommy Bahama restaurant and store location at Legacy West in Plano.(Rose Baca/Staff Photographer)]
Interior of the Tommy Bahama restaurant and store location at Legacy West in Plano.
(Rose Baca/Staff Photographer)
The restaurant portion of the operation takes up about 5,700 square feet compared with 3,700 square feet for the store. The Island also has a 2,100-square-foot patio, covered with a louvered roof.
The roof is a new innovation, one of several that boosted the cost of the Plano location above the typical cost, which Goldberg declined to release.
Sales in the retail segment of an Island tend to be up to 30 percent higher than retail sales at non-combo locations, Goldberg said.
Plano marks the brand's second Island location in Texas and the first to open here in about a dozen years. The first Texas location, in the Woodlands north of Houston, opened in 2004.
The company has four North Texas retail outlets, including the new Plano location. A fifth is set to open in Fort Worth.
The brand has more than 160 retail outlets, mostly in the U.S.
Having retail operations in an area "certainly helps," when the company is looking to locate an Island.
"It lets us get an understanding of who's in the market and what they might like," Goldberg said. "We look for markets that already have some familiarity with us. That helps. Where we think they're going to adopt our lifestyle, our mission is to inspire the world to relax."
Mark Hill and wife Tiffany were in a relaxed mood this week while "people watching" on the expansive restaurant patio. It was the latest stop on their sampling tour of Legacy West restaurants including neighbors Shake Shack and Mico Rodriguez' brainchild Mesero.
"We have a lot of good options," said Mark Hill, noting that the two also dine across the Dallas North Tollway at restaurants in the Shops at Legacy. "Depending on what all opens up here, we'll see what pulls us in."
Even as the two enjoyed chips and dip, they did not express plans to shop at the Tommy Bahama store just paces away.
"We've been to stores but have never bought anything, yet," noted Mark.
Goldberg said there is a fair amount of cross pollination between the restaurants and the stores. Both, he said, help the brand "engage" with consumers.
A newer food and retail combo, called the Marlin Bar, helps Tommy Bahama merge the two worlds in a much smaller setting. Launched as a test in Florida late last year, the concept eventually will be expanded to more of Florida and Texas, Goldberg said.
While retailers serving food predates the Woolworth lunch counters, most retailers today pick a side.
Cracker Barrel is officially branded as an Old Country Store but is viewed by consumers as a restaurant chain. Some higher-end department stores, notably Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, still operate in-house restaurants but get the vast majority of their cash from the retail side of the aisle.
Goldberg said the restaurants help the brand cross some of the traffic hurdles facing brick and mortar retailers.
"There's no doubt that one of the restaurants' primary goals is to induce people to come to the retail said," he said, as a tray of fish tacos passed by. "We have more tools at our disposal to delight the guest and make money."