The Year That Was Del Frisco’s

delfrisc_200BY JUSTIN PAHL

Del Frisco’s might be wondering whether the Packard Grande Building is cursed. Since opening just over a year ago in a massive, elegant room, the Texas-based chain has attracted lots of attention — but for all the wrong reasons. Here’s the laundry list of missteps and bad luck:

Fall 2008: Construction Delays
Initial construction delays force workers to pick up the pace in the fall of 2008. Subcontractor Casey Duffy, of Delaware Valley Remediation, claims in the Philadelphia Business Journal that work was approved at an unusually furious pace: “They had to get open by late November, to beat Union Trust and to be open for the holidays.”

November 2008: Lawsuits Roll In (Plus Picketing)
Alleged careless construction practices are at the heart of multiple lawsuits filed by subcontractors shortly after the restaurant opens. The subcontractors — including Duffy — claim they haven’t been paid for their work. Del Frisco’s countersues the now defunct construction company Lorient, which they claim is responsible for the unpaid wages. The subcontractors stage very visible protests outside of the restaurant.

March 2009: A Bad Review
In his initial (more on that later) one-bell review, Craig LaBan doesn’t have the nicest things to say about the food and lambastes the restaurant’s vibe: “I’m guessing that all the crisply pressed suits guzzling pineapple ‘VIP’ cocktails in the lounge were enjoying more than just the food. … It was some of the female guests who were really turning heads, with so many surgically enhanced, body-glittered bosoms on display, the only thing missing was a brass pole.”

Fall 2009: Stay Classy
Del Frisco’s actually installs a brass pole and dedicates it to Laban.

September 2009: Dumpster Wars
In September, a months-long feud between the steakhouse and Chris’ Jazz Café over smelly dumpsters comes to a head when Chris’ owner Mark DeNinno — who complained to Del Frisco’s GM Shang Skipper about especially putrid dumpsters — drags one of the aforementioned receptacles and chains it to a light pole in front of the steakhouse.

December 2009: A Worse Review
In his annual year-end re-review, LaBan revisits Del Frisco’s and actually demotes it to the irredeemable netherworld of no bells.

February 1, 2010: And a Bus
And just today, a SEPTA bus careening around the corner of 15th and Chestnut slams into a corner of the steakhouse, obliterating the door. No word yet on the amount of damage done, but I think it’s safe to say that the steak chain’s bravado — evident in a dining room containing three levels and an 34-foot tall “wine tower” — has been cut down to size.

Update: The restaurant remains open for business.