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20-Year Restaurant Industry Expert Bringing Mici Italian to Dallas-Fort Worth

After years of running operations at Outback Steakhouse, Carlos Smith is bringing his restaurant knowledge and Mici Italian’s top-quality menu to the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

By Katie Porter1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 9:09AM 05/02/22

Leaving a 20-year career with an esteemed and established brand like Outback Steakhouse may seem like a risky career move, but it’s something that Carlos Smith, the company’s first African American proprietor, knew was the right thing to do. Some may think swapping a globally-known chain for a relatively small one like Mici Italian was an unconventional choice, but for Smith, who is opening locations of the fresh fast-casual eatery in Texas, it’s an opportunity with limitless potential.

Smith knew that the Denver-based concept was small in scale but mighty in terms of local support. The chain is well-loved in Colorado, admired as an easy spot to grab a quick yet quality meal and the company has just opened up to franchising opportunities. To Smith, that meant the possibility to spearhead part of the expansion and bring a new family-oriented business to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 

He was recruited by Mici Italian’s SVP of Operations Joe Melton, whom he had worked closely with at the steakhouse’s corporate level. Melton is the brother-in-law of Mici Co-founder Jeff Miceli, and after joining the family business, Melton told Jeff that Smith was a “force of nature”. They invited Smith to learn about the company, the franchise model and watch how the Colorado stores operate.

“Joe convinced me to come out, look at it and try it,” Smith said. “For me, looking at the opportunity for growth with the company, it just really caught my eye. After 28 years with Outback, I felt that it was just time for me to move on, so I decided to franchise with Mici and bring it to Dallas.”

“We're just over-the-moon thrilled. He’s exactly the type of person that we want to work with. A bigger-than-life personality — he is just a fun guy with high energy and just a good person. He's so dedicated, and he's a hands-on guy. He is very smart,” Miceli said of Carlos joining the company as a franchisee. 

Smith is set to control the northern Dallas-Fort Worth region, with his first location in Frisco slated for a May opening. Over time, he plans to open over a dozen units, which will create about 400 jobs in the area. 

“We're looking to open our second location in late November or December of this year, and then our third one by July of 2023. Within the next five years, we hope to open up another 10 to 15,” Smith said.

His enthusiasm about bringing the brand to the Lone Star state was amplified when the landlord of his first property told him she knows Mici. The landlord said they have friends in Colorado who go “every week” and she was thrilled to hear that Smith is opening one in Texas. 

“I think it's going to work well,” said Smith. “It’s known as a family-oriented place — very kid-friendly. And the landlord said, ‘We believe here, in this part of Texas, if you do this fast, quality food, everybody will love it.’ So that's what I feel is going to sell.”

About MICI:

Founded in 2004 by Miceli siblings Jeff, Michael and Kim, Mici is an emerging Italian restaurant franchise based in Denver. Mici’s streamlined artisanal menu offers comforting, classic Italian fare steeped in generations of family history, all prepared quickly without losing an inch of quality, for families who don’t always have the time or money to prepare a full Italian dinner and each location offers minimal wait and delivery times thanks to high-efficiency kitchen operations. Recently, Mici signed a 30-unit franchise deal in Phoenix with several new locations slated to open in 2022.