“The people working here, they call them captains, and they have the outfits,” said Nav Singh, who works in real estate and was splurging on a celebration of his birthday at Carbone. “They are putting effort into it. At a mom-and-pop shop, it is maybe white shirt, black pants.” Compared with the average Dallas restaurant, he said, “this is more elevated.”
But the boom in out-of-town restaurants hasn’t come without casualties to the home team.
In 2021, Julian Barsotti, who owned a longtime Dallas restaurant called Carbone’s, sued Carbone, claiming copyright infringement. But it was Mr. Barsotti who ended up changing the name of his restaurant, after making a deal with Major Food Group.
“If the name meant that much to them, at the end of the day I was happy to compromise,” said Mr. Barsotti, who said he could not disclose the terms of the deal.
Erin Willis, who recently closed her French restaurant, RM 12:20 Bistro, in East Dallas, said the large restaurant groups were partly to blame.
“These big corporate entities that now own all the restaurants, they can pay for more advertising, they have deeper pockets, they are more glitzy,” she said. “It puts the small places like myself into the background, and we can’t survive.”