Last March, business partners Joe Saccone and Rick Hauck opened their 11th Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse at Pineapple Square in downtown Sarasota. Business has been booming, says Saccone, whose corporate headquarters are in Ohio.
Why did you decide to open a restaurant in Sarasota?
One, we wanted to get down in the state. We have a location in Daytona, but Rick, my business partner, has relatives in the Tampa, Bradenton and Sarasota area. My father lives in Tampa, and we used to have a condo in Indian Rocks. So we’d actually been looking at this area for 10 to 15 years. The Daytona location opened in December, and once we established ourselves there we immediately wanted to do more. The Tampa-Sarasota area was a target for us.
What locations did you look at other than Pineapple Square?
We had opportunities to go in at three locations in Sarasota: the Quay project, St. Armands Circle and Pineapple Square, and we settled on the downtown location. We thought it would be the best fit for us in the short-term and, more importantly, the long-term. We liked the synergy in downtown Sarasota, we liked the vision for Pineapple Square, and we liked the overall business mix of downtown, in general.
Did you consider our region’s demographics and consumer behavior in your decision-making process?
Sarasota’s demographics definitely did play a role. When you look at our design and our [menu] offerings, we bill ourselves as the “next generation of steakhouses”—the new, modern American steakhouse. Sarasota’s urban downtown environment fits what we’re all about, so, yes, demographics and consumer behavior played a role in our concept and our offerings. We’re a chef-driven steakhouse; we’re about food, ambiance and a relationship with our guests.
How’s business been so far?
Business has been outstanding so far—more than we expected since we opened in mid-March. We have a staff of about 60 employees, and we plan to start offering lunch in October.
We want to continue to open more restaurants. From a Sarasota standpoint, we want to help Pineapple Square expand and help downtown expand and realize the long-term vision that the city has for downtown Sarasota. From our own [corporate] standpoint, we’re trying to be a good neighbor, trying to offer something unique and different that guests and residents of Sarasota will like. We want to develop our restaurant as a favorite of many. We’d like to continue to open one to two restaurants a year, if the environment and the location work, and if it doesn’t, we’ll do one a year or one every two years. There’s no pressure for us to expand as long as we maintain a high level of service. Dining at Hyde Park is a personal experience—if we want to open, and we can do it under the standards we’ve set for ourselves, we will; if we can’t, then we won’t.