Within the next year and a half, the Del Frisco’s name will be dropped from the popular steakhouse on Lee Road. Already the sign, menu and website have been changed to read Christner’s Del Frisco’s Prime Steak & Lobster. By 2014, the name of the popular restaurant will be simply Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster.
The change was agreed to by the owners of Orlando’s Del Frisco’s, Carole Christner and her son David, after Lone Star Steak House, which owns the Del Frisco’s brand, challenged the Orlando restaurant’s continued use of the name.
Del Frisco’s Prime Steak & Lobster was opened on Lee Road in 1993 by Russ and Carole Christner. Christner had been friends with the owner of the original Del Frisco’s Double Eagle, in Dallas, and he convinced his friend to allow him to use the Del Frisco’s name for his restaurant when he relocated to Central Florida. The original agreement, according to David Christner, was for 20 years, with an option to renew for another 20.
But in the past two decades, Lone Star bought the rights to the name and began opening Del Frisco’s Double Eagles across the country. Russ Christner died in 2005; Carole continued with the restaurant, aided by David, who left his career as a commercial pilot to help run the business.
As the Del Frisco’s Double Eagle brand flourished, challenging other high-end steakhouse like Ruth’s Chris and Morton’s, Orlando’s Del Frisco’s (which never used the Double Eagle in its name), maintained its independence.
But as the end of the first 20 years of the original agreement approached, the corporation decided it did not want the Orlando restaurant to continue operating under the Del Frisco’s label. Instead of challenging the corporation to honor the option to renew for another 20 years, the Christner’s agreed to change the name.
So for the next year and a half it will be Christner’s Del Frisco’s Prime Steak & Lobster, then, thereafter, Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster. The restaurant is allowed to keep and continue to use the original recipes. Del Frisco’s is excluded from opening a Double Eagle in the area until 2015. The Christners lose the name recognition that has helped draw out of town visitors to its restaurant over the years, not an insignificant loss.
I’ll have more about the state of things at the Lee Road restaurant, including a new review, later in the week.