Saltgrass Steak Talks, But Not With Incumbent

Saltgrass Steakhouse, a six-year-old restaurant chain based in Houston, is holding discussions with three agencies about its future advertising plans.
Sources last week pegged Fogarty Klein & Partners, Ogilvy & Mather and Black Rogers Sullivan Goodnight, all Houston, as shops being screened by the restaurant’s marketing executives.
The agencies were first contacted several weeks ago and asked to discuss capabilities, sources said.
Executives at all three shops declined comment. It was not clear last week if agencies would be asked to make formal presentations or if a decision date has been set.
Saltgrass Steakhouse director of marketing Cynthia Wackar, who declined to comment when rumors of an account review began circulating last month, had not returned calls at press time.
In March 1996, Saltgrass named Coleman & Coleman in Houston its first agency of record.
“Frankly, I’m shocked,” Coleman & Coleman principal Brandon Coleman said when told that agency discussions were taking place. “All we’ve ever been told is what a critical part of the team we are.”
Though he said he had heard nothing of a review or been asked by the client to defend the account, Coleman added, “We’re not afraid of competition.”
The bulk of the incumbent’s work has consisted of outdoor and radio executions, Coleman said, along with consultation on other operational and marketing issues.
Saltgrass currently has five Houston locations and three additional restaurants in the Dallas area and San Antonio. It also has an affiliated concept, Denis’ Seafood, operating in Houston.
Spending for the Saltgrass account was estimated at $1 million when Coleman & Coleman was enlisted last year. That budget is expected to increase in 1998 as an unspecified number of new locations are added.