Houlihan's Cooks up Big Flavor Punch with Original Small Plates

Minneapolis Restaurants transform dining experience with New Menu Meant for Sharing

May 11, 2010 // Franchising.com // Minneapolis, MN – Houlihan's Minneapolis restaurants, part of one of the nation's most innovative casual-dining brands in the U.S., is catering to consumers' increasing demand for a customized dining experience with a new, flavor-packed menu of 30+ 'small plates.'

According to the National Restaurant Association's Tableservice Restaurant Trends Report, smaller portions were named among the top 10 food trends in 2009. While a few restaurants have added small plates as an extension of their appetizer menus, no other national casual-dining concept has embraced the small plate concept so far as to add an entire menu of tapas-like options along with the service and back-of-house procedures that accompany tapas-style dining.

"Our new small plates allow you to have a little of this, and a little of that. You just can't cook this way at home," said Steve Kneeland, Sr. VP of Restaurants with Northcott Hospitality. "Our guests love that they can try several different things with less risk due to the low price points, and order as many or few plates as they want—whether for an individual meal, as an appetizer or for sharing multiple plates as a couple or group."

The small plates menu features original items like the Grilled Naked Chinese Dumpling Kabobs, flatbread pizzas and Greek-Chic Chicken Kabobs, as well as several gluten-free and vegetarian items. The Frites Bar, with options like Parmesan Frites and Truckstop Fries, makes for the perfect accompaniment to the Slider Pit, with items like the Shrimp Po'Boy and Pulled Smoked Pork Slider. Houlihan's small plates start at just $2.50.

"Our small plates menu is really a concept evolution in response to the converging of several macro trends," said Jen Gulvik, Vice President of Marketing and Creative Director for Houlihan's Restaurants, Inc. "Boomers have been driving the health & wellness trend, and they're wanting smaller portions and 'snack meals,' along with the older Matures demographic; meanwhile, younger adult Millennials are social diners who graze and drink their dinners in groups, sharing plates in more of a communal style of dining. And short-term, consumers across all segments are seeking value. Small plates delivers on all of those accounts."

Houlihan's continues to serve up its made-from scratch recipes that offer a fusion of bold flavors and great new tastes with dishes ranging from eclectic salads, premium steaks and modern comfort foods to creative desserts and beverage flights. Signature indulgences include Goat Cheese Bruschetta, Seared Rare Ahi Tuna Wontons, Down Home Pot Roast, and a whimsical S'mores Fondue Crock.

About Houlihan's

Established in 1972, Houlihan's is a progressive concept that bridges the gap between fine dining and what people have come to expect from casual dining, priding itself on style and quality appropriate for any occasion, any day of the week. Houlihan's offers guests an inviting atmosphere, eclectic menu and energetic bar environment with creative, diverse drink offerings. Inspired by fare around the globe, Houlihan's crafts dishes made from scratch with assertive flavors, offering a unique culinary experience. Currently, 102 Houlihan's restaurants operate throughout the country, 65 of which are franchised. Houlihan's is owned by Houlihan's Restaurants, Inc. of Leawood, Kansas, a pioneer in the full-service, casual dining industry that developed and owns several restaurant concepts comprising of approximately 116 locations from coast to coast, including Bristol Seafood Grill and Bar/ J. Gilbert's Wood-Fired Steaks.

Northcott Hospitality currently owns and operates four Minnesota Houlihan's locations, which are located in Eagan, Chanhassen, Maple Grove and Richfield. Privately-held Northcott maintains a superior reputation for excellent products and services in the lodging and restaurant industries. In addition to the four Minnesota Houlihan's®, its holdings include the AmericInn® chain of more than 250 hotels and 21 Perkins® Restaurants strategically located throughout the country.

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