Succeeding in the restaurant business is far from a slam-dunk proposition.
It’s an even more daunting challenge when a new eatery opens in the same space formerly occupied by a longtime local favorite.
That was the task facing the owners of Chris Michael’s Steakhouse Lounge when they opened in 2006 in the same spot in suburban Woodbridge, NJ that had previously been the venue of legendary local hangout Poor Billy’s Restaurant.
But for more than a decade now, Chris Michael’s Steakhouse Lounge has helped to set a new standard for excellence, serving prime beef, seafood, pasta and sushi in an elegant setting.
“The owner wanted to create a traditional American steakhouse,” said Pete Papagiannakis, the manager of Chris Michael’s. “This is an upscale steakhouse in the tradition of those you’d find in Miami, Las Vegas or New York.”
Launching a new restaurant of any kind often cannot be financed out of pocket, and it is an endeavor that should inspire many would-be entrepreneurs to seek out other means of funding, including a small-business loan.
Patrons at Chris Michael’s are greeted by spectacular lights and a water wall, Vegas-style entrance. The restaurant uses wet-aged, corn-fed, USDA Prime beef served on a sizzling plate.
“We serve a porterhouse steak for two, we offer daily seafood specials and we have a live lobster tank,” Papagiannakis said.
The dining room at Chris Michael’s has seating for 100, and there are banquet facilities for up to 250 guests. The establishment also has room for smaller private parties.
Dinner appetizers include crabmeat cocktail, oysters, Pork Osso Bucco and clams on the halfshell. The creamy lobster bisque is served with a hint of brandy.
Pasta offerings include linguine with clam sauce, cappelini, Penne a la Vodka and lobster ravioli. In addition to its beef specialties, lamb chops, pork chops and a veal T-bone are all on the entree menu, as well. Its wine list features a portfolio between old and new world, with a representation and selection for every wine enthusiast.
Along with an upscale menu of steakhouse standards, the lounge portion of Chris Michael’s Steakhouse Lounge is a destination in and of itself. The sophisticated modern lounge offers distinctive imagery and decor, and signature cocktails are served while patrons listen deejays that mix the hottest music. The Chris Michael’s lounge is intended to emulate Manhattan nightlife with its elegant and modern ambiance, with state-of-the-art modern lights and cutting-edge laser display. There are many high-definition TVs in the lounge broadcasting all of the night’s most in-demand sporting events.
Budding restaurateurs and club owners don’t face an easy road to success, but proper planning and the right sources of funding could help them realize the kind of spectacular success that this steakhouse and lounge has achieved after replacing a local legend in town.