Among the elite independent operators in this group, most have 2012 revenues in excess of $20 million.
In the restaurant game, there is no singular path to high revenues. This emerged as the one prevailing truth when FSR began its quest to highlight 10 of America’s highest-performing, stand-alone restaurants.
While one list-maker claims its own USDA prime beef certification, another intrigues diners with Pan-Asian cuisine and a 16-foot tall Buddha in its dining room. While one has roots as a masculine saloon for political powerbrokers, another has been churning out refined Italian cuisine for decades. Restaurants located in high-powered urban centers dominate the list, but one casual, family friendly eatery sits in a quiet, middle-class suburb. And in a surprising twist, one $30-million-a-year eatery actually closes its doors for nearly three months each year.
From culinary and culture to operations and environment, the 10 restaurants listed below—all landmark, destination restaurants claiming revenues above the $16 million mark—showcase the varied paths restaurateurs travel in their quest to create a compelling, successful concept.
Joe’s Stone Crab
Since its founding in 1913 by Hungarian-born Joe Weiss, Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami has been serving its award-winning menu to hundreds of thousands of seafood lovers each year.
The family-owned eatery, now in its fourth generation of family leadership with a fifth generation on the rise, follows crab season—which runs October through mid-May—and then the restaurant closes for about 11 weeks across late summer and early fall.
Even so, Joe’s general manager Brian Johnson says sales reached $30 million in 2012, and the average check rang in at $46 per diner. Their impressive revenues include the 450-seat restaurant and an adjacent 85-seat café, which also serves breakfast—as well as Joe’s highly profitable, direct-to-customers stone crab mail-order business.