Lee Roy Selmon’s Restaurant Chain Builds on its Brand
BRANDON — The continued expansion of Lee Roy Selmon’s shows the sports restaurant chain has developed a loyal audience.
Restaurants built around iconic sports legends tend to flourish when the player is active, so the death of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers legend in September might have signaled rough times for the chain featuring hearty entrees and southern fare.
But there will be no fumble.
Private investment firm MVP Holdings, which owns the chain along with the family of the late Lee Roy Selmon, plans a seventh restaurant in Brandon in mid-June.
The restaurant will promote itself as a gathering place for families and youth sports teams, said MVP CEO Nick Reader.
MVP bought the roughly 6,000-square-foot former Giordano’s pizza restaurant at 11310 Causeway Boulevard for $1.65 million in December. MVP will hire between 80 and 100 employees, similar to the number of staff at the Lee Roy Selmon’s restaurant in Palm Harbor that opened in June.
These restaurants are the only two MVP — whose executives include Outback Steakhouse founders Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan — has opened since it took over ownership of Lee Roy Selmon’s from OSI Restaurant Partners LLC in 2008.
MVP formed MVP LRS Propco Brandon LLC to open the Brandon location. MVP offers limited partnership shares in some of the stores it builds but does not take outside investors, although it’s required to file a form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
A similar structure is in place for the Palm Harbor restaurant, opened under MVP LRS Palm Harbor LLC.
Developing a following
In recent years Lee Roy Selmon’s has adjusted its menu, adding salads and shared appetizers while still offering items such as “mama’s meatloaf.”
“We will always have the comfort side. That is our legacy,” said President Greg Lynn.
At some point, the economy will more fully recover, Lynn said, and in the mean time, the restaurant caters to a cost-conscious public.
As operating costs rise, some restaurants have raised prices and invested in creating an atmosphere to justify a larger check. Lee Roy Selmon’s meanwhile, has lowered prices 20 to 30 percent and tried to keep many price points at $9.99 and $10.99.
“We just didn’t want to be that upscale restaurant.” Lynn said. “We wanted to be mid-level, casual level dining.”
The restaurant’s choices aim to “get more dining opportunities and more frequencies out there for us, as opposed to less frequency rates and charging more,” Lynn said.
Lee Roy Selmon’s is an example of a restaurant built around a sports figure that’s also focused on its concept, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Chicago food research firm Technomic Inc.
The focus on menu items allows Lee Roy Selmon’s to appeal to younger and “more mature” audiences alike. The concept’s “legs” speak to the quality of the brand.
“A restaurant will be as relevant to consumers as the person behind it unless the restaurant can stand alone,” Tristano said.
Despite the increase in sports channels available for home-viewing fans still seek the camaraderie of watching a game in a public place. Lee Roy Selmon’s has made the televisions more accessible for viewing throughout the restaurant.
“I truly believe that people love to congregate, to be around people,” Lynn said.
PDQ FLIES HIGH
Fast-casual chicken concept PDQ is moving “full steam ahead” after its first Tampa location opened in October, said MVP Holdings CEO Nick Reader.
MVP has plans to open sites in the Wesley Chapel area, in Carrollwood and in St. Petersburg. The new locations are expected to have similar dimensions and staff as the 3,500-square-foot South Tampa restaurant with 65 employees.