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Southlake Style

The New American Dream

Sep 04, 2014 04:25PM ● By Dia

But I’ve always taken a lot of risks in my career. I’ve always kind of been a risk taker in life, so it didn’t really scare me,” Jason says. “I knew I could make great food. And I believed if I made great food that people always have to eat. That’s something that has stuck with me.”

As tempting as it might have been to immediately make the place their own, they proceeded with caution. The name remained unchanged at first, and so did the menu for the most part. The first year was rough, as they didn’t want to alienate the existing client base, however small it was at the time. “We slowly changed the menu. It just felt like an uphill battle from the very, very beginning to try to educate the local clientele as to what good food is — made from scratch, kind of inspired cuisine,” Jason says.

“Things started to click and people started to understand it. I started being able to have more freedom with my menu.” At first, ladies who lunch filled the tables in the afternoon, dining on soups, sandwiches and salads in a very casual environment. At lunch, people walk up to the register, place their order and wait for their food and drinks to arrive. There’s no server and just paper-wrapped cutlery and plastic cups. Still, lunch at Trio means Grilled Corn Caesar salad with cotija and charred tomato dressing or Pork Belly Mac with red fox cheddar (each under $10). By year three, they were shattering records.

In early 2012, Jason and Miriam decided to open for dinner. “I told my wife, ‘Look, if we open for dinner, I want to do the kind of food we used to do at Abacus. I want to do the high-end food,’” he remembers.

“That was another big risk that we took. No one has ever really done that — you take a very simple, simple sandwich shop and then from day to night you transform it to an upscale fine dining establishment,” Jason says.

The first few months they relied on the lunch business to sustain them. When dinner is served Thursday-Saturday, out comes the linen napkins, silverware, china and goblets. They bring in several other hot appetizers, flatbread pizzas, charcuterie boards and cheese plates, and even though the entire lunch menu is still offered in the evening, about 85 percent of diners order from the dinner menu. That makes for a unique dynamic. “You may have someone sitting at one end of the table who orders a $9 chicken salad sandwich. But her husband sitting at the other side of the table coulcould very well be eating a $42 rack of lamb,”

Jason says.

“The biggest reason we’re getting as much recognition as we are is because the dinner entree 

selection that we put on is very small – one beef, one poultry, one fish. They rotate with the seasons, and are constantly in flux. Plus a dinner special as well — rack of lamb, venison, bison, copper river salmon, fish that you’ve never heard of before — such as blue nose sea bass.”

Trio sources ingredients locally whenever possible. “Our beef comes from a local Texas ranch. It’s not even certified — it’s beyond the grade of a prime beef because it’s local and it’s raised by a local farmer,” Jason says. Arrowhead, out of Lewisville, specializes in unique and specialty meats such as the Amish Airliner, a chicken breast from an Amish community — organic free-range chicken. On Pure Ground in Bonham allows Jason to call in a cheese order on Wednesday to be freshly made and delivered the following day.

In the laidback atmosphere, even the live music is locally sourced and the wine is BYOB, which Trio’s unique customer base considers a plus — many of his customers have great selections at home. “They don’t have a lot of places where they can bring their really good wine and get really good food. So that’s where we come in,” Jason says.

That’s first-hand knowledge. For years, Jason has been cooking for private parties. “That is my absolute favorite thing to do. I love going into homes. I’ve got several clients who have me back multiple times in Vaquero, out in Westlake, and here in Colleyville. I love going into homes and doing small parties for anywhere from two to twenty, twenty-five people.”

In 2013, Trio expanded its catering operation by opening a state-of-the-art facility just across the street from the restaurant, in direct competition with Tastefully Yours and Bravo Catering. Miriam oversees the pastry side of the business with its very large dessert menu, including her raspberry panna cotta and mascarpone blackberry napoleons. Trio has catered events for up to 4,000 people, including Gateway Church’s upscale Volunteer Appreciation Night.

For the most part, Miriam remains the administrative brains behind the whole operation while tending to the couple’s two daughters, ages 2 and 4 months. At the end of a long day, are they whipping up world-class meals at home? “Most evenings, we get really, really good left overs from the restaurant,” Jason shares.

Things are better than ever. “We’ll post a million dollars this year,” Jason reveals. “To look at how far we’ve come in a short amount of time and see the restaurant just constantly packed. It’s just unbelievable. It makes me really emotional just to think about it, because we’ve put in so much hard work.”

So where do they go from here? “The next step is for Trio to expand into a larger building,” Jason says. That might mean knocking down a wall or two in their current location, but with customers knocking down their door, they’re not in any rush. They know exactly what to expect, and can predict with great certainty how many diners they’ll serve each evening. “That’s a really good place to be,” Jason says.

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