It's lift-off time for Dallas restaurant Rise nº1, which intends to spread its soufflés across the state. Founder Hedda Dowd has plans to open a branch in Houston, followed by other Texas cities, including San Antonio.
Dowd says that, after six-and-a-half years in business, she wanted to be sure she had the right set of ingredients before considering expansion. According to the Dallas Business Journal, she's partnered up with some of the same investors responsible for the initial branch on West Lovers Lane, who've created a $4.2 million nest egg for an expansion entity called Rise Soufflé Holdings. Those investors include Jon Luther, former chairman and CEO of Dunkin Brands.
"From day one, we were ready for the concept to be shared," she says. "We've had many offers, and it may look easy on the outside, but not everyone realizes what it takes to make something of this nature happen."
Rise is definitely a unique bird, with its soufflé-centric menu and charming decor in prime Park Cities turf at Inwood Village. Dowd outfitted the restaurant with vintage linens and flatware from France that she'd collected over a long period of time.
But she says that's not the hardest part of expansion.
"The interior isn't the difficult part," she says. "The most difficult part is to inculcate people with your point of view. We have the advantage of time being on our side from the guest experience and staff experience. Servers, managers, we're all very equal here. It's not what you do; it's how you do it."
She compares her philosophy to Anthropologie, the women's clothing and decor chain.
"With Anthropologie, each store is different, and the minute you walk in the door, you get a sense of who they are and what they are about," she says. "We feel there will never be any Rise that looks the same intentionally.
"You'll know it's a Rise, but we are anti-cookie-cutter about everything. We would never want anyone to walk into the Rise in Houston and say, 'This is exactly like the one in Dallas.'"
The long-term plan is to open 10 locations; in the short term, they'll focus on Texas. "We have a site selected for Houston, but we can't share it yet," she says. "San Antonio is on our list, and anywhere in Texas that you can drive to or fly to."