While Dallas’s nightlife and dining scene is currently on an exponential rise, Alberto Lombardi has been a major driving force in the industry for decades. If you go out and about regularly in Uptown or in Knox Henderson, chances are, you’ve dined in one of Lombardi’s restaurants. Dining establishments, including Taverna, Lounge 31, and Toulouse are all fathered by Lombardi under his restaurant group, Lombardi Family Concepts.
From a young age, Lombardi knew that his lifelong career was destined to be in the realm of hospitality.
“I’ve been in this business since I was 13 years old,” Lombardi says. “I worked in Italy and went to school over there for three years. Then, when I was 16, I left for Berlin and worked in a hotel. After that, I went to Norway for six months, then worked on a cruise ship.”
Apart from his extensive European travels, Lombardi also worked in Miami and San Francisco, eventually finding his way to Dallas.
“I arrived in Dallas in 1974,” Lombardi says. “My first job in the city was managing The Venetian Room, which I did until 1976.”
After eventually parting ways with The Venetian Room, Lombardi opened his first restaurant, Lombardi, on McKinney Avenue in 1977. He later opened the first Taverna location in Knox Henderson, which has remained a staple in the city’s dining scene. He has expanded his empire by opening Taverna locations in Houston, Austin, Laguna Beach, Atlanta and most recently, Plano’s Legacy West shopping center.
“When I first heard about the Legacy West project, I said ‘wow, let me put my concepts in,’” Lombardi says. “When I first came to Dallas, Plano was a rural area. There was nothing to do, but Legacy West is such an urban area where people can shop and go to restaurants. It’s amazing how much Plano has changed.”
Despite having opened Taverna’s Legacy West location only two months ago, Lombardi has shown no signs of slowing down. Earlier this year, Lombardi announced big changes would be taking place within Lombardi Family Concepts. These changes include his three daughters playing a larger role in the restaurant group’s operations.
“My daughter Laura will be handling marketing and my other daughter, Sarah, will be coordinating the menus,” Lombardi says. “Anna will be helping us with the technological side of the business. She’ll be maintaining our website and our social media handles.”
Apart from the big changes coming from within the company, Lombardi Family Concepts will also be expanding its territory by opening up Toulouse and Kai locations in Legacy West during the first quarter of the year.
“The Toulouse location in Dallas is more of a bistro,” Lombardi says. “The Legacy West location will be more like a brasserie. I believe it will be one of the most beautiful restaurants around here.”
Toulouse is set to open for Dinner beginning March 12. Also joining the Legacy West development will Lombardi’s newest concept, Kai Asian Bistro.
“Kai will consist of Asian fusion, a sushi lounge, and live music,” Lombardi says. “We plan to open at the beginning of April.”
Lombardi Family Concepts currently operated multiple restaurants across the Dallas metroplex. Also, be on the lookout for Toulouse and Kai’s new Legacy West locations opening soon.