Perry's Steakhouse Runs Like a Well-Oiled Machine
Austin outlet of Houston-based steakhouse chain is very impressive
By Virginia B. Wood, 4:24PM, Tue. Sep. 25, 2012
Intrigued by the biannual 79 cent pork chop deal for the first 100 people standing in line when the steakhouse opened for lunch last Friday, I showed up and got in line. And, boy, am I glad I did!
The Flashback Friday deal harkens back to the year when Perry's was born as a butcher shop in Houston and outlets in the chain use social media to announce the availability to loyal fans. The first 100 folks standing in line when the restaurant opened at 11am were eligible for the 79 cent deal - that's right, a gigantic, center-cut smoked pork chop with a caramelized surface glistening with herb butter paired with whipped potatoes and homemade applesauce, carved tableside for less than a buck!
I knew I was there for the pork chop deal but the table of six tourists seated nearest me were thrilled and surprised by their good fortune. "We had just heard this was a good place for lunch on Fridays," exclaimed one of the women, "We never expected a deal like this!" Looking back, I'd have to admit that starting my meal with an appetizer of Fried Asparagus topped with jumbo lump crab meat ($16.95) amounted to gilding the lily, but I couldn't resist, the elegant combination was just too tempting. OMG, how decadent; the first installment in the buttery-est meal I've eaten in years.
Ordering the pork chop deal means getting to witness members of Perry's well-trained and professional waitstaff carve meat at the table and that is quite a show. They slip on a latex glove and carve each behemoth chop into sections, explaining as they go. The pork really is delectable; very lightly smoked, tender, and moist under a sweet, caramelized exterior, resting in a pool of herb butter with simple side dishes that offer satisfying textural and flavor counterpoints to the star of the show.
Perry's only serves lunch once a week and the pork chops are a featured item, already a steal at the $11.95 regular price. Chain-wide, I'm told they sell 2,500 pork chops a week at lunch and the Austin outlet alone serves 550-600 diners between 11am and 4pm every Friday, leading in pork chop sales. But what impressed me more than their sales stats was the professionalism of the floor staff. So often when I go out for restaurant meals these days, I am saddened and disappointed by the embarrassingly low level of what passes for waitservice in this town. Hip, happening new joints sprouting up all over, places that look great but have no one on the floor who demonstrates a genuine understanding of customer service. Such is not the case at Perry's - the floor staff here is well-schooled and smart, friendly and helpful without being cloying, knowledgeable about the food and wine, and perfectly capable of a little tableside showmanship. Servers like that are worth their weight in more than pork chops, and I'm betting they make good money, not just because Perry's has a high-dollar menu and an upscale clientele, but because they know how to do their jobs, and the better they do their jobs, the more money they'll make.
Another thing I discovered while enjoying my Friday lunch at Perry's is that they've recently opened for dinner from 4-9pm on Sunday nights and offer a great three course meal deal with salad, a pork chop, and a dessert trio for $24.95. Their Social Hour prices are also in effect on Sunday nights which meas select hot appetizers, wine selections, and custom cocktails are available for half price. I'll admit, I had considered the swanky and upscale Perry's out of my reach price-wise, but now that I've learned more about the deals they offer and seen how well-run the operation is, it could just become my go-to steakhouse.