The History Behind Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill

The Backstory

I have a lot of fond memories of restaurants that I went to as a child like my favorite Chinese restaurant in High Point that is now closed down or the place that my dad used to take me after every little league baseball game that filed for bankruptcy last year. When a restaurant that you love closes down, it leaves a void that is tough to fill and can sometimes be irreplaceable.

In 2002, a lot of North Carolinians experienced the same thing when the Houlihan’s Restaurant Group filed for bankruptcy in January closing the doors to twenty-five of the Darryl’s restaurants in the thirty-nine restaurant, multi-state franchise in a single day. Over the next few years, the number of restaurants dwindled down to the one remaining in Greensboro on High Point Road.

William “Marty” Kotis III and his company, Kotis Properties, decided to invest in resurrecting the Darryl’s restaurant on High Point Road in Greensboro after meeting with the Houlihan’s Restaurants Inc. CFO/CDO in late 2008. Kotis was interested in buying the piece of property because of its great location when he found out that it was the last remaining Darryl’s. He admitted “there was a part of [him] that didn’t want to see the chain disappear. [He] didn’t want to see that legacy disappear, and neither, [he suspected] do the thousands of customers and employees that have frequented Darryl’s doorsteps” in the past.

The Menu

When Kotis reopened the new Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill towards the end of 2010 after $2 million in renovations to the sole Darryl’s restaurant left standing, one of the things that was the most important to him was bringing back many of the menu items that everyone loved from the franchise. However, he didn’t just want to bring them back…he wanted to make sure that they tasted better than ever. With the help of his staff and “chief culinary officer”, they went through all of the recipes they had on file and tried to figure out ways to better them.

Darryl’s infamous crackers are a story among themselves. As Kotis and his crew were getting prepped for the grand reopening, they realized that the original recipe for the Darryl’s crackers had gotten lost in the shuffle. In an effort to recreate the original recipe, Kotis got in touch with a bunch of former Darryl’s employees and others who had been involved with the recipe in the past and consulted with them to help piece together the original recipe. All of the hard work paid off because they nailed it.

They have also taken a lot of the other Darryl’s dishes and tweaked the ingredients or preparation methods since opening based on customer reactions to different dishes that they receive at the table, through comment cards or on their social media channels like Facebook. It is refreshing to see a restaurant that actively makes adjustments to its menu items when its patrons speak out.

Here is a link to the new online, interactive menu for Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill.

What is different about Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill?

When you walk into Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill, you still get that old neighborhood feeling that you were used to when you walk into a Darryl’s. As normal, you are greeted with smiling faces that are excited that you are there. The decor is still locally nostalgic so residents can reminisce about things in the area’s past and visitors can get a better feel for the local history.

A couple things that stood out to me on my visit to the Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill in Greensboro were some of the additions that Kotis decided to implement while doing the rennovations. The first noticeable addition when you walk into or drive by Darryl’s are the two gas fire pits out front that emit a warming glow to the restaurant’s exterior. The fire pits also serve as a great waiting area where patrons can take a cocktail or appetizer as they wait for a table. Darryl’s has also installed a partially covered heated patio to sit even more guests even when the weather wouldn’t allow it at most restaurants.

Another thing that stood out to me were the ways that the restaurant has embraced technology. At the bar, business travelers can stay connected on-the-go with WiFi throughout the restaurant and places to plug-in and charge their devices. They have also installed a theater room that has an HD projector and separate sound system which is used for business meetings and special events like themed movie nights. Darryl’s hosted a Harry Potter-themed dinner back in November that looked like it was a good time. Check out a picture from the night below:

Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill is also doing some neat stuff in the craft beer & wine arenas. They offer a variety of craft beer on tap with a large portion of it from North Carolina breweries as well as as a lot of wine from North Carolina vineyards. They also offer flights of both beer or wine where patrons can try four 4 ounce samples from Darryl’s extensive choices.

If you are in the Greensboro area, you should definitely put Darryl’s on your list of things to do while you are there. Not only is the food great (food review to come in the next day or two) but the experience is awesome. Kotis also told me that the namesake for the original Darryl’s franchise, Darryl Davis, stopped in a few weeks ago and told him how impressed he was with everything that was going on in the restaurant on High Point Road and how the spirit of Darryl’s was still captured perfectly.

For those of you living in Raleighwood, I spoke with Kotis and he said that he plans on opening up another Darryl’s in the capital city next so get ready for some good food and fun in the city where Darryl’s was born!

I am the founding blogger of Eat It, North Carolina. I started Eat It, North Carolina because I am always looking for awesome, local restaurants in different places around North Carolina but have never been able to find one place on the Internet that lists them. I'm a recent graduate from East Carolina University & currently live in Greensboro. I like all types of food but am a sucker for Chinese and greasy spoons.
Charlie Brinson
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4 Responses to The History Behind Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Charlie Brinson, Kotis Properties, Darryl's Restaurant and others. Darryl's Restaurant said: Great article by EatItNC http://www.eatitnorthcarolina.com/2011/01/12/the-history-behind-darryls-wood-fired-grill […]

  2. Debbie says:

    I took my family to the new Darryls/Wood fire grill high point rd greensboro nc back in february. For the most part the food was excellant. The service needs a little more work. Getting sitted was no issue, getting the waitdress to come to your table more often needs work. Out of all the steaks that was ordered we had one steak dinner that was not cooked enough, when he waitdress told the manager, the manager said she would credit me. Fine I was happy we that BUT, I spent about 350.00 not counting graduity that was added by the restaurant. The manager only credited me for 4.50 cents for the 20 something dollar steak that was not ate or cooked the way requested. I also think the graduity should be based on service, therefore graduity was paid and services was not good. I will one day try again but it will be a long while. I was very dissappointed BUT i was so… excited to go and take my family. Maybe over time it will get better. deb

  3. Wilson says:

    Excellent! Highly recommend!

  4. Diana Thomas Kinard says:

    I worked @ Darryl’s, Knox. TN for 10 years. Loved it! Was loyal till 1990, tried air traffic control. Would love to talk about this place w/ any past employees

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