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Cameron Mitchell updates Ocean Prime Dallas

Restaurateur unveils $2 million refresh of 10-year-old unit

Updating a 10,800-square-foot polished casual restaurant is no easy task, but Ocean Prime in Dallas unveiled a renovation this week that gives a subtle new look to the polished-casual seafood restaurant.

The Ocean Prime unit, one of 16 owned by Columbus, Ohio-based Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, originally opened in 2009.

 “It was nine years old, so it was time to refresh it,” said Cameron Mitchell, CEO of the parent company, during a tour of the Dallas restaurant. He said his rule of thumb is to consider renovation updates after between five and 10 years.

“We spent $2 million to completely renovate the inside and the exterior patio-terrace of the restaurant,” he said. With the conversion of the patio terrace from open-air to an enclosed space with openable glass doors, the total space is a year-round 12,500 square feet and offers more than 400 seats.

“My rule of thumb is about seven years for a restaurant to be refurbished,” Mitchell said, but the Ocean Prime’s scale made wear-and-tear less obvious. “This one is so big; it can handle such large volumes.”

The $2 million renovation, to which the landlord contributed, included about $200,000 in back-of-house updates and the remainder went to front-of-house updates, including a new host stand, the terrace conversion and updates in the bar, including a natural-edge wood communal table for six.

The bar-lounge area — all Ocean Prime units offer a locally created bar menu — also removed tablecloths. “It’s a lot warmer and cozier and more approachable,” Mitchell noted.

Consumer tastes have change since the restaurant opened in the last decade. “Food today, from when we opened 10 years ago, is a little bit lighter. It’s not has heavy as it used to be,” Mitchell said. “Our menu has evolved. Ten years ago, when we opened, we didn’t have sushi on the menu. Now we have a full-blown component of sushi on the menu.”

Renovations usually create “a 10% bump in sales because of new excitement and buzz,” he added. “We want to keep all our restaurants across the country looking in tip-top shape. … For the guests who came in here a month ago to those that came in here yesterday, it’s basically a whole new restaurant.”

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants has 36 restaurants with locations in 12 states. Among the companies 15 concepts, besides Ocean Prime, include: Cap City Fine Diner & Bar, The Guild House, Hudson 29 Kitchen + Drink, M, Martini Modern Italian, Marcella’s, Molly Woo’s Asian Bistro, The Pearl Restaurant, Tavern & Oyster Room, The Barn at Rocky Fork Creek, The Avenue Steak Tavern, Del Mar SoCal Kitchen and Lincoln Social Rooftop.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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