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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Steak out

The way the economy has been struggling, you'd think this wasn't the time to lauch a "national branding" for an emerging chain of high-end steakhouses, esecially one originating in Fort Wayne, Ind. But more power to the folks at Eddie Merlot's:

Eddie Merlot's is taking the next step, or perhaps 11 smaller steps, in creating a national brand.

The Fort Wayne-based steakhouse and seafood chain, which opened the doors to its first restaurant in 2001, plans to add five locations next year and six in 2010, giving the budding business a total of 15. Eddie Merlot's currently has locations in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Columbus, Ohio, and Cincinnati.

Despite a downturn in the economy that has taken a toll across the restaurant industry, Merlot's has managed to keep growing. Finding a niche customer base or new market may be the key for those looking to expand, those in the business say.

Love a good steak. I used to eat out several times a week. These days, I seldom do, which is probably why I don't mind hitting one of those high-end places when I do dine out. I haven't been to the Eddie Merlot's here, but I've tried the one in Indy, and it is wonderful. So is St. Elmo's. One of the best steaks I've ever had, though, is the New York strip at Bravo!, an Italian restaurant (part of another small chaine) on 86th Street in Indianapolis. Has anyone tried Ruth's Chris? I keep hearing ads for them on WOWO, even though we don't have one here.


Larry Morris
Mon, 07/21/2008 - 10:17am


Mon, 07/21/2008 - 10:31am

Been to Ruth's Chris a lot and think Eddie Merlot's mediocre by comparison. Amazed it's still in business, frankly, because you can do a whole lot better for the money right here in the Fort. Club Soda puts them to shame IMHO.

My biggest beef with Merlot, however -- and I've heard this from others who've had the same experience -- is the exorbitantly priced wine they'll charge to your bill if you're not careful. When they recommend wine to go with your meal, be sure and ask what it costs, or you're likely to spend a hundred dollars more than you'd intended.

Leo Morris
Mon, 07/21/2008 - 10:38am

Maybe the one in Indy is better (or I just have mediocre taste). I like Club Soda, too.

Mon, 07/21/2008 - 12:03pm

Eddie Merlot's is every bit the equal of any Ruth's Chris. Club Soda is excellent, as well. The Cork and Cleaver is pretty darn good, too. All are far better than St. Elmo's-one of the most over-hyped, under-valued restaurants I have ever had the misfortune to eat at.

Give me the Chicago Chop House, though, over any place I've been for steak. If you don't like the food there, you are just naturally hard to get along with.

Unless I have been sick or similarly incapacitated, I have eaten dinner out on Friday night every week since I was 18. I am 65 now. It is truly one of the great pleasures in life. My philosophy toward a restaurant is that I'll happily pay a lot for a meal if I get truly good food, but, if it turns out to be slop, and it only costs $6.95, I feel cheated. Rule #1: If they serve good soup, you can feel pretty safe with the rest of the menu. If they can't make good soup, you are in trouble from that point on.