Tony Roma's

Last updated
Romacorp Inc.
Tony Roma's
Type Private
Industry Restaurants
Founded North Miami, Florida (1972;49 years ago (1972))
FounderTony Roma
Key people
Dan Cronk (CEO & President)
Products ribs, steak, chicken, and seafood
Number of employees
Website Tony Roma's U.S.

Romacorp Inc., which does business as Tony Roma's, is an American casual dining chain restaurant specializing in baby back ribs. The first location was established by the founder in 1972 in North Miami, Florida. [1] Clint Murchison Jr. purchased a majority stake in the restaurant in 1976, and he and Roma established the jointly owned Roma Corporation. [2] The first international location opened in 1979 in Tokyo, followed by an international expansion with both company-owned stores and franchises. [2] As of 2020, there are over 115 locations [3] on six continents. [4]




Tony Roma, the driving force and namesake behind the casual dining eatery, opened the first Tony Roma's in North Miami on January 20, 1972. [5] Prior to opening his self-named restaurant, Tony Roma was the food and beverage specialist for the Playboy Club.

Originally a steak and burger restaurant, one weekend, chef David Smith grilled baby back ribs and served them with Tony Roma's BBQ sauce. The ribs proved to be popular, and were added to the permanent menu, and quickly became what Tony Roma's was known for. Tony Roma's menu has further expanded to include seafood, pasta, chicken, and sandwiches. [6]

Four years later, in 1976, Clint Murchison Jr., the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was in Miami for Super Bowl X. Murchison purchased the majority stake in the restaurant, going on to become the driving force behind Tony Roma's international expansion. Murchison and Roma established Roma Corporation, a jointly-owned company that oversaw the restaurants and sold franchises. [2]

In 1979, the first international location opened in Tokyo, Japan and by 1983; there were 30 Tony Roma's restaurants around the world. During the mid-1980s, Roma Corp's growth plan included opening more franchises, rather than company-owned stores. [2]

Murchison sold his shares in Roma Corp to his children in 1984, and Kenneth Reimer, a Murchison business associate, took over as CEO of Roma. Tony Roma himself also sold his interest in the company to the Murchison children. [7]


Under Reimer, Tony Roma's expanded, growing the menu, opening more locations, and remodeling older restaurants for a more modern feel. In 2002, Frank Steed took over as CEO and president of Roma Corp [8] and David Grail became head of menu development. Steed signed agreements to open an additional 60 Tony Roma's across South America, Europe, and the Middle East. [9]

In 2001, original head chef David Smith retired and Tony Roma's first executive chef, Bob Gallagher, came on board in 2006. [7] In 2003, Tony Roma died in Hemet, California, at the age of 78. [6]

As of 2006, there were 1,725 employees. [10]

On March 3, 2015, Tony Roma's launched TR Fire Grill in Orlando, Florida with more locations planned for the following months. [11]

At the end of 2020, there were 57 Tony Roma's locations franchised by Romacorp.

Baby-back ribs and onion loaf Troma2.JPG
Baby-back ribs and onion loaf

When the first Tony Roma's opened in the 1970s, the restaurant was known for its burger and steaks until chef David Smith cooked up some baby back ribs and they became popular. [6] Today the menu includes ribs, burgers, and steaks, as well as chicken and seafood dishes, appetizers, vegetarian dishes, desserts, and a cocktail list. Many international locations provide additional options that conform to local customs. [12] Tony Roma's menu is routinely updated with specials, new chef-created dishes, and seasonal cuisines. [13] In 2015, Roma Corp's introduced a new concept, TR Fire Grill & Lounge, in Orlando, Florida featuring modern American cuisine and modern cocktails. [14] [15]

A number of entrees from the Tony Roma's menu are available as prepackaged frozen meals, sold in supermarkets. The entrees are manufactured and distributed by Rupari Food Services. [16] Tony Roma's original barbecue sauce is also available in supermarkets.


Tony Roma's in Berlin Berlin Potsdamer Platz Tony Romas 13.01.2015 17-39-54.jpg
Tony Roma's in Berlin

As of 2020, the franchise has over 57 locations [3] on six continents. [4]

In 1976, Tony Roma's was one of the first US chain restaurants to expand into the international market, opening their first store in Japan. During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Tony Roma's expanded into Europe, South America, Australia and Asia. Tony Roma's has also expanded to the Middle East, including the UAE, where the prince of Dubai, Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, dines. [17] As of 2015, Tony Roma's had around 120 international stores spread across five continents, with 20 restaurants in the United States. [1] The franchise introduced a brand makeover in 2016 with a new store model. [4]

As of 2016, the only location near New York City was inside Newark Liberty International Airport, after the Commack branch closed as part of a downsizing. There also remained a location in Niagara Falls at the time. The closure left 20 locations in the United States, with most remaining restaurants international. [18] In 2018, the company opened its first US franchise in six years, and also its first new US restaurant since 2014. [19]

As of 2020, there are two locations in Southern California. There is one near the SouthBay Pavilion in Carson, California and another in Anaheim, California near the Disneyland Resort. [20]

Tony Roma's is consistently opening new restaurants in emerging markets. [1] In 2015, Tony Roma's became one of the first US-based restaurants to open a store in Myanmar. [21] As of 2018, Tony Roma's had "new licensing deals in the United States, Europe, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand" and "new development agreements in Spain, Nicaragua and Bolivia." [19]

Countries and territories with restaurants

Countries with Tony Roma's restaurants Tony romas world locations.PNG
Countries with Tony Roma's restaurants

Key people

See also

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  2. 1 2 3 4 "About Tony Roma's". Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  3. 1 2 "Locations", Tony Roma's
  4. 1 2 3 "Openings: New barbecue restaurant to debut at Hilton near PBI in West Palm", Palm Beach Post, Liza Balmaseda, January 9, 2018
  5. Barbara Farfan. "Tony Roma's Restaurants Mission Statement – Mission, Headquarters, Founders Facts, History and Trivia About Tony Roma's Casual Theme Restaurant Chain". Money. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 Tony Roma, 78 – Began Chain of Rib Restaurants –
  7. 1 2 "History of Romacorp, Inc. – FundingUniverse" . Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  8. "Steed to head Tony Roma's" . Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  9. "Tony Roma, 78; Restaurateur Created World-Famous Barbecued Ribs Recipe". latimes. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  10. "Romacorp, Inc. – Google Finance". Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  11. Megan Ribbens (4 March 2015). "Romacorp debuts TR Fire Grill concept, preps Winter Park location". Orlando Business Journal. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  12. "EAT's a treat at Ayala Malls!". Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  13. Mad Vine Media Financial Content. "Tony Roma's Introduces New Menu Inspired by the Fresh Flavors of a Farmer's Market -" . Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  14. McPherson, Heather (December 13, 2015). "TR Fire Grill hitting its stride". Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  15. [ dead link ]
  16. Rupari Food Services Rolls Out New Tony Roma's Retail Products from
  17. Time Out Dubai staff (17 February 2015). "Dubai foodie news". Time Out Dubai. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  18. "", Melissa Cart, October 18, 2016, Newsday
  19. 1 2 "Tony Roma's Opening First U.S. Franchise in Six Years", Franchise Times, January 17, 2018
  21. "Tony Roma's opens first restaurant in Myanmar" . Retrieved 23 December 2015.