Knoxville-based Connor Concepts, Inc., is celebrating 25 years in business this month, having first opened The Chop House in Knoxville, in March of 1992. Connor Concepts, Inc. now includes 12 Chop House locations and five Connor’s Steak & Seafood restaurants, primarily throughout the Southeast.
Mike Connor founded Connor Concepts, Inc. following a lengthy career with global restaurateur Brinker International, progressing with the company until 1982, when he, along with several Regas family members, opened Grady’s Good Times. Connor went on to serve as President of Grady’s, opening seven new restaurants before merging with Brinker International.
Opening a casual steakhouse was a risky move in 1992, but Connor says he spent several months conceptualizing the company, the concept and the foundational values he wanted to work from.
“Our idea of ‘polished steakhouses’ resonates with the communities we call home,” Connor said. “We’re able to provide an excellent dining experience that offers high-end food without high-end prices.”
Following the success of the original Chop House, in Knoxville’s Franklin Square, the Chop House expanded to new markets in Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio. The Connor’s Steak & Seafood concept was launched in 2004, originally opening in Turkey Creek in Knoxville. Connor’s footprint now includes locations in Alabama and Florida.
The 1,200+ employees include 10 team members who have been with Connor Concepts for the entire 25-year run, a feat Connor recognizes as monumental for his industry.
“Living our 10 foundational beliefs has been the reason we have developed an enduring culture and have been able to retain team members committed to us for decades,” Connor said. “It’s part of everything we do. From sourcing our food, to serving our guests, we’re committed to: integrity, uncompromising standards, the product, service, consistency, teamwork, communication, creativity, perspective and the environment.”
Connor Concepts has earned a number of awards over the years, including being ranked as a “Top-100 Best Steakhouse in America” for its Connor’s location in Huntsville, AL., as voted by OpenTable users and “Best Steakhouse in Tennessee” for the Turkey Creek location, awarded by Business Insider.