[caption id="attachment_217397" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Triple T Hospitality Group will open a Tio Taco at the former California Pizza Kitchen at the Christiana Mall next year. | PHOTO COURTESY OF TRIPLE T HOSPITALITY GROUP[/caption]
CHRISTIANA – Triple T Hospitality Group, one of New Jersey’s fastest growing restaurant groups, is arriving in Delaware next year with two new locations at the Christiana Mall.The restaurant group owned and operated by the Bonfiglio family is opening its first Tommy’s Tavern + Tap and Tio Taco + Tequila Bar in Delaware at the locations of the former J.B. Dawson’s and California Pizza Kitchen at the destination mall off Interstate 95.The restaurants are the southernmost locations for the 12-year-old group that ranked in the Inc. 3,000 this year, which covers the fastest growing private companies in the country. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Triple T has grown from three restaurants to 10 and expects to open eight more next year.
[caption id="attachment_217405" align="alignright" width="200"] Tommy Bonfiglio | PHOTO COURTESY OF TRIPLE T HOSPITALITY GROUP[/caption]
Founders Tommy and Yvette Bonfiglio, joined by their daughters Christina and Andrea, launched the hospitality group in 2009 after a lifetime love of restaurants convinced them to contribute to the industry. Their first location was in Sea Bright, N.J., on the northern Jersey Shore.Tommy Bonfiglio explained that the group’s long-term goal is to expand south to Florida – the family spends their winters in the Sunshine State. They will be opening clusters of restaurants along the way to ensure management can remain more local to each location.“If we're going to Delaware, the Christiana Mall is the spot to be,” he told the Delaware Business Times. “We have a lot of guests who have children that go to or went to the University of Delaware. They all tell us, ‘Oh, we're very excited to go there when we visit our kids.’”The spaces at the former mall restaurants, which each have exterior entrances, will be gutted and completely built to the group’s aesthetic specifications, Bonfiglio said.
[caption id="attachment_217403" align="alignleft" width="300"] Tommy's Tavern + Tap features high-end finishes, a catchall menu and a wide selection of craft beer. | PHOTO COURTESY OF TRIPLE T HOSPITALITY GROUP[/caption]
Tommy’s Tavern is the original group brand, which features high-end finishes, a sports bar offering and a catchall menu of scratch-made food. Coal-fired pizzas, wings and handmade sushi are all on the menu – a byproduct of the Bonfiglios asking themselves what they wanted to eat.“That's what makes Tommy’s special. I call it the veto vote,” he said, describing how spouses and kids often cannot agree on one style of restaurant. “No one can ever agree on anything, but at Tommy’s there's something for everyone and it's all high-quality ingredients.”The family created the sister brand Tio Taco after finding a great location that was too small for a Tommy’s and sensing an opportunity to bring their flair to Mexican fare. Tio Taco features upscale Mexican street food with high-end, contemporary aesthetics.The opening of the locations, scheduled for late spring, will create upward of 175 new jobs. The group has been able to find staff at its existing locations, despite an industry-wide workforce shortage, due to the strength of the brand, Bonfiglio said.“You know you’ll have tables here; your job is safe, and you’ll have opportunities to grow,” he added.
[caption id="attachment_217399" align="alignright" width="300"] Margarita flights are among the offerings on the Tio Taco + Tequila Bar menu of upscale Mexican street food. | PHOTO COURTESY OF TRIPLE T HOSPITALITY GROUP[/caption]
The biggest workforce threat has been the rapidly growing wages in the industry that leads one restaurant to often poach workers from another, Bonfiglio said. So far, they’ve been able to match many offers to keep their top managers on staff.Bonfiglio said Triple T’s rapid expansion is part of a bet on the strength of the brand and the opportunity to get attractive real estate at diminished prices – he started buying and leasing early in the pandemic.“I’ve seen a few peaks and a few dips in my life. I knew nothing was going to be forever,” he said. “So it was an investment in our brand and it was an investment in ourselves.”Aside from its arrival in Delaware, Triple T is also eyeing an expansion into the national beverage market, launching a canned cocktail line sold in stores and online using the Bonfiglio family’s own cocktail recipes.