In 1972, Houlihan’s first opened its doors in Kansas City with a progressive, eclectic menu and energetic bar scene. Ferns hung throughout, artifacts cluttered the walls and tapestries made by San Francisco hippies formed the ceiling. Caviar burgers, roasted duck, foot-long hot dogs and fresh carrot juice were just a few original menu items so ahead for its time. It was hot.
Before long, there were a lot of ‘casual dining’ restaurants opening and call us crazy, but they looked a whole lot like us. We tried to be flattered. Some grew really big, and by the ’90s, the whole ‘casual dining’ landscape was pretty me-too. Instead of watching the consumer, the industry seemed more worried about what competitors were doing. Casual dining lost its way, and in doing so lost its edge.
Fast forward to 2002. That’s when we had our ‘Aha!’ moment (as Oprah would say). New leadership, new ideas, new inspiration. We completely re-imagined ourselves, and got back in touch with the consumer. New menus. New plates. New building design, new soundtrack. Stylish uniforms. And a modern, warm restaurant design with an open kitchen and prominent bar. Today, our company is built entirely around what the progressive consumer seeks in a restaurant + bar experience. And we plan to keep it that way.
Forget ‘casual dining.’ That’s an industry term so out of touch with how consumers eat and drink today. For premium quality and style; fare that’s at times familiar and other times adventurous and a laid-back modern setting, Houlihan’s is a true original.