Lindsey Food Group is at it again.
The fast-growing local restaurant group has another outpost in the works, its sixth since it was founded in fall 2020 by Mike Lindsey and Kim Love-Lindsey.
Their latest effort is a takeover of the former home of Fatty Smokes at 326 E. Broad St. downtown, where they’re planning to open ML Steak Modern Chophouse.
Their lease of the space is a homecoming for the married couple and business partners, as prior to starting their own group, they helped open Fatty Smokes in 2019 while working for EAT Restaurant Partners.
“It’s kind of near and dear to me,” Lindsey said. “We’re just excited to be back in the space.”
As its name suggests, ML Steak will be a steakhouse, however it “won’t be traditional or stuffy or have the white tablecloth,” as Lindsey put it.
He said they plan to fire up the meat smoker that’s remained in the space since Fatty Smokes closed in 2020 and use it to smoke all sorts of cuts of meat including prime rib, wagyu brisket, duck breast and short ribs, while also offering steakhouse staples like files and bone-in ribeye steaks.
“We’ll make it a fun spin on a steakhouse,” Lindsey said. “It’s a place to have fun, kind of have that adult, sexy vibe to it but still be a place to have a great date night or if a bunch of business guys want to hit town.”
It’ll also be open for lunch, offering more approachable fare like burgers, Lindsey said.
The goal is to have ML Steak open in September. The initials in the restaurant’s name are an homage to Lindsey’s mother, Mildred Lindsey.
The Lindseys are leasing the space and were represented by Sperity Real Estate Ventures’ Nathan Hughes, Veronica Wiles and Betsy Borders Mangum in the deal. The landlord, The Monument Cos., was represented by Leo Chappell of Legend Property Group.
The new steakhouse is another example of the group’s knack for finding turnkey situations, picking up in a space where others left off.
Just as they’re taking over from Fatty Smokes, the Lindseys have also struck deals for Pasture’s old space on East Grace, where they’ve opened Lillie Pearl; B.Good’s old home in Short Pump, where they’ve opened Buttermilk and Honey; and the former Wildcraft Focaccia Co.’s in Manchester, where they’re preparing to open Jubilee next month. They also bought Pop’s Market from its founders last summer.
Their lone new-construction presence is in Hatch Local, the recently-opened food hall in The Current in Manchester.
Lindsey said their strategy of targeting turnkey spaces has allowed them to avoid taking out big loans and going into debt, and therefore grow more quickly.
“I’m telling you man, our success is going into these situations. Usually it’s on the back of someone else losing it. We’re always empathetic to that, but we’re always grateful for the opportunity to go into a space that allows us to continue to grow without going into debt,” Lindsey said.
“It feels good because then we can really take care of the people that work for us because we’re not digging a hole to fight out of every time. We’re able to pay people well and treat them right. We can do it without the stress of debt.”
They’ve also developed a reputation. When spaces come available, Lindsey said he thinks they’re at the front of mind for whoever’s tasked with finding a new tenant.
“A lot of second generation spaces come to us like that because people are like, ‘Oh, this is what Kim and Mike do, let’s make sure we hit them up,'” he said. “So we get hit up pretty early in the process.”
That approach has also allowed them to think up restaurant ideas more quickly. Lindsey said in lieu of developing a list of food concepts and going out and finding spaces for them, he works backward based on the real estate.
“Most spaces determine what the concept will be. I never go in with a concept. The space kind of speaks to what you do,” he said. “Me and Kim are usually able to come up with those ideas and make it work. The timing matters. People are starting to know that we make decisions pretty quickly.”