At 62 years old, little Deidra “Dee” Lincoln has earned her title as the heavyweight woman of influence in the restaurant industry. She was dubbed the “Queen of Steaks” more than 20 years ago when she traveled to New York to announce the construction of a Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in Manhattan near Times Square.
As the co-founder of Del Frisco’s, which she started in her native New Orleans in 1981, Lincoln had experience opening restaurants. In 1986, she and partner Dale Wamstad moved Del Frisco’s to Dallas where it then proliferated successfully when it was purchased by Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon in 1995. At that time Wamstad left and Lincoln remained. vice president of operations to grow. places with CEO Jamie Coulter, whom she calls her mentor.
Lincoln says, however, that going to New York was “the big test”. A male-dominated industry populated by giants like Peter Luger Steak House, Smith & Wollensky, The Palm and others had to question a Texas steakhouse encroaching on their turf, especially one opened by a woman.
Lincoln tells Pat Cetta, the late co-owner of the famed Sparks steakhouse, who stood up at the conference and announced, “I’m telling you right now, this lady is the queen of steaks. She really knows her stuff.
The name stuck.
To date, Steak Queen Dee Lincoln has opened 15 restaurants in a career built around premium beef. After what some employers might call a gap in her resume – from when she left Lone Star in 2010 to a period spent focusing on her daughter Bella until 2015 – she began to “start” on a new concept, one that would evolve from a staple menu of New York filets, rib eye and strips, and one that would bear his name.
Dee Lincoln Prime opened at the Dallas Cowboys‘ headquarters, The Star, in December 2017, with sushi, an omakase bar and “seafood that’s second to none,” she says. The steakhouse is now one of Frisco’s most profitable restaurants. Last December, it cost $549,235 in alcohol alone, and according to Lincoln, it grew by a comparable 110% last year – a feat she attributes to the ability to create an environment where customers in search of normality can come to be pampered.
Lincoln credits Jerry Jones with being the first to encourage him to come forward and the first to have the vision to bring the restoration north to Plano. He was the one who insisted that she use his name for the Dee Lincoln Tasting Room and the Dallas Cowboys Stadium Bubble Bar. Later, when he invited her to open a restaurant in his new entertainment district, he told her, “You’re going to be the star of The Star.”
“It’s pretty big when he’s the most incredible marketing and branding genius,” Lincoln says. “He tells me to do it as a brand, so I have to run with it.”
Lincoln says she met the Jones family and fellow restaurant partner Dave Johnson while entertaining, a skill that comes naturally to her. “I come from New Orleans; this is the South. Hospitality was the reason I got into this business,” she says.
She also draws on her NOLA background for the kind of food she’s always served — “strong, bold flavors” she attributes to salt, pepper, butter, cream and garlic. “I always say it’s more about it than all the exotic seasonings you can’t get. It’s more about what was in my grandmother’s cabinet.
Every night, Lincoln can be seen at the bar and in the dining room, working his charms and making sure customers are looked after. It also takes care of its 80 employees. She proudly notes that all but two of the employees returned after the Covid-related shutdowns in March 2020, likely because she saw the value in paying everyone full wages during the shutdown.
The newest development within Dee Lincoln Prime is Havana Dee’s Lounge, a cigar club with live music and an extensive dinner menu that opened in 2020 after years of working with the City of Frisco to modify his smoking prescription.
It is perhaps at Havana Dee’s Lounge that it becomes clearest that the dynamics of old boys’ clubs have changed. “Women can afford to drink as much as men,” says Lincoln.
“I don’t see it as if I’m in a man’s world anymore because I think women have evolved and are so powerful – in any industry. … Today’s corporate world is masculine and feminine, and there are powerful women all over the country,” she says. “I’ve met a lot of amazing women in that environment. The steaks were where it all started.
From the collection of awards that Lincoln has received, the Ivy Award for defunct publication Restaurants & Institutions was the one she considers the greatest because it was voted on by her colleagues across the country. She has the respect of other Dallas steakhouse moguls, like Nick & Sam chef Samir Dhurandhar, who met Lincoln shortly after leaving New York 20 years ago.
Dhurandhar says Lincoln has “always looked far into the future” in terms of restaurant development. “She developed concepts that we all wanted to implement, but could never have put together. I’ve always looked to Dee as an inspiration,” he says.
Still, Lincoln says his proudest accomplishment is his daughter, Bella. She has never been open for lunch throughout her career and has intended to create a flexible business model that delegates authority to trusted colleagues. This is how she mastered the balance between work and family life, which not everyone knows how to do, she says.
Lincoln hints at an expansion of Dee Lincoln Prime to other North Texas cities in the coming years. “It’s my baby, but I’m an entrepreneur and the restaurant is in its fifth year,” she says.
Whatever she does, she won’t reinvent. “It’s the creme de la creme,” she says. “This one is about my legacy.”
Dee Lincoln Prime is located at 6670 Winning Drive, #400, Frisco. deelincolnprime.com.