Del Frisco's Restaurant Group (DFRG) has announced an agreement to purchase Barteca Restaurant Group for $325 million. Both groups have been recognized by Wine Spectator for their wine excellence, boasting a combined total of 63 Restaurant Award winners in 2017 overseen by Jessica Norris for Del Frisco's and Gretchen Thomas for Barteca.
"The wine program that Gretchen and team have created is a core piece of celebrating with people every day," Norman Abdallah, CEO of DFRG, told Wine Spectator via email. "This aligns perfectly with our brands and vision at Del Frisco's Restaurant Group."
DFRG, founded in 1981 and based in Irving, Texas, is a fine-dining steak-house company operating three restaurant concepts with locations nationwide—Steakhouse Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse, Del Frisco's Grille and Sullivan's Steakhouse—with a total of 51 Restaurant Award winners, including Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse in New York, which earned a Grand Award in 2017.
"The brand has a really unique opportunity to collaborate with another award-winning and respected wine program," said Thomas, wine and spirits director at Barteca. The group, based in Norwalk, Conn., includes the 16-location Bartaco chain as well as the Barcelona Wine Bar restaurants, 13 of which are Best of Award of Excellence winners, serving tapas-style Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine alongside wine lists with extensive Spanish and South American selections. "Barcelona is incredibly proud of its wine list and the recognition it's gained over the many years that the brand has been diligently working on it. The drive to keep it fresh and inspiring has never been more great," said Thomas.
Thomas does not believe the strategy for wine buying at Barcelona Wine Bar will change with the acquisition, citing the close relationships with producers that drive the program. "Pounding the pavement, so to speak, and meeting and researching great winemakers doing really interesting things across Spain and South America has been the key for Barcelona in accessing the best wines available for our concept. Barcelona is still going to do that," said Thomas.
As to whether the combined buying power of the two groups will give the restaurants access to more opportunities for sourcing wine, Thomas believes their philosophy will stay the same. "The wide variety of awesome wines we have available isn't rooted in budget decisions. It's really about gut, it's about a feeling, and it's about variety," she said.
With the merger, wine lovers may have more opportunities to enjoy the Barteca group's wine offerings. DFRG, in a release, noted that they hope to expand to more locations nationwide of both Barcelona Wine Bar and Bartaco, estimating the potential to be between 50 and 100 restaurants for the former, and 200 and 300 for the latter.