Nafees Alam – Fort Worth Magazine
Nafees Alam, CEO of Dallas restaurateur DRG Concepts, commutes much of his week to downtown Fort Worth these days. After months of delays, this winter the DRG opened its Wicked Butcher Steakhouse in the basement of the renovated and newly opened Hotel Sinclair Fort Worth.
The steakhouse quickly caught on and Wicked Butcher made reservations early to ensure the quality of service. But Alam had to deal with the parking-related headache to get his diners into the restaurant. The Sinclair has its own valet parking, but some customers confuse it with the popular valet parking in adjacent Sundance Square, which doesn’t serve The Sinclair.
The DRG likes to let its restaurants grow slowly so that such problems don’t get worse. It opened Wild Salsa and Chop House Burger on City Place in downtown three years ago.
“Every year sales have grown,” says Alam. “We were satisfied with this progress. We feel like we’re building a brand. It takes time to build that relationship. “
At The Sinclair, DRG took over room service, breakfast and bar service in mid-November. Wicked Butcher dinner in the basement was introduced in late January and lunch in February. There will be a rooftop bar later this year that The Sinclair will open. “They’re kicking out as we speak,” Alam said in a pre-Valentine’s Day interview.
The DRG is also planning to roll out the first Italian concept for oven and cellar in the city center, but does not look promising when. “We are practical business owners,” says Alam. “I want things to be done here before we move on to the next project.”
Like DRG founder Mike Hoque, whose entrepreneurial journey began as a limousine driver in Dallas, 40-year-old Alam has an unusual story. He received his bachelor’s degree in information science from the University of Texas at Arlington, worked for a technology company, and visited a friend in Atlanta where he sat next to a chain restaurant manager at a baseball game. The executive suggested Alam deal with the company. “I laughed at myself. I didn’t go to college to be in restaurants. “
At home, he checked Waffle House and called the executive who invited Alam to Atlanta and then offered him a job. There Alam worked his way up to a portfolio of restaurants that he ran in Dallas. “It was an amazing experience,” he says. “They are their own suppliers. You own the real estate. You have a piece of everything. “
Hoque recruited Alam 15 years ago and the two opened the DRG, Alam as operations manager and partner. The company has numerous other key people who it has cultivated in areas such as operations, wine, accounting, marketing, and graphic design. “We were lucky with a few key people who have been with us for 14-15 years.”