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 Houston's Debating a Name Change..In Manhattan

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Baah Ben

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  • Location: Ormond Beach, FL
Houston's Debating a Name Change..In Manhattan Sun, 12/21/08 12:18 AM (permalink)
I just ran across
Apparently they have two locations in NYC and they are not thrilled with this new menu requirement that calls for calorie content to be noted.  The new requirements are for chains with a certain number of units.  I believe it's 15? 
So, Houston's is actually going to a new name - Hillstone Manhattan for these two places and changing the menu, too.  A seasonal menu? The speculation is that they are worried when diners see how high in fat some of their menu favorites are such as their famous spinach dip, it will hurt their business in other places outside NYC.  This all apparently happened after they moved into Manhattan.  I have to believe they would not have moved into NYC if this law was in effect at that time. 
What would you do?  Great case study for students enrolled in a Marketing class in a Hotel and Restaurant Degree program or in an MBA program.  This is how these big executives earn their $$.
Boy...I guess I'd stick with what got me here..the name Houston's and my long time successful menu. Dining out is a pleasurable experience for most.  Do you want to know how many calories you are consuming when dining out?  I don't. 
So, they are changing the two restaurants.  Sounds like they are maybe going to do a Season's 52 sort of place?  What do you think about just selling these two places and taking your losses.  Forgetting NYC for the sake of protecting their menu elsewhere in their other locations from the scrutiny of calorie watchers. 
But, when you eat a spinach dip made with cheese and mayo, I mean come on..You don't know it's high in fat?  Hey, you're eating out.  Looking to enjoy yourself.
Anyone know more about this?  I'd imagine CCinNJ might?
<message edited by Baah Ben on Sun, 12/21/08 12:36 AM>

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    Re:Houston's Debating a Name Change..In Manhattan Mon, 12/22/08 12:28 AM (permalink)
    That NYC law is inherently unfair. Letting the corner Greek diner/coffee shop buy the cheapest unhealthiest ingredients at Restaurant Depot- and the last time I was there in a Queens, NYC RD, they were still selling a butter/margarine blend containing Transfats, while making the chains fess up, will lead companies like Houston's to hire shyster lawyers to find ways to skirt the law. It will now become a sport for restaurant chain executives. You will hear them tell "war stories" at restaurant industry conventions. "Phil from Boston" will tell his competitiors at the hotel bar how he "stuck it to Bloomberg".
      Baah Ben

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      • Location: Ormond Beach, FL
      Re:Houston's Debating a Name Change..In Manhattan Mon, 12/22/08 2:00 AM (permalink)
      David - So I did read it correctly...It's only directed at chains doing business in Manhattan and the other boros?  And individual restaurants are exempt?

      Seems very unfair.  I agree.  Thanks

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        Re:Houston's Debating a Name Change..In Manhattan Mon, 12/22/08 3:21 AM (permalink)
        There are many loopholes as far as "restaurant regulations" Sadly, in these cases,  intentional, obvious and blatant dodging of such laws, create much stricter (and sometimes unfair) regulations, for all restaurants. Many times large restaurant groups will intentionally become blatantly defiant, as a challenge for stricter laws, so they can really go to work (with their financial resources) and bury much of the smaller independent restaurants, in the neighborhood. Since Houston's seems like they are screaming "bring it" to the DOH, I believe they have a plan, for phase 2. It could be that they have strategic vision and think they are well-prepared in anticipating what the DOH will counter. Many times it is just scortched earth. The DOH may create the "Houstons" ammendment to the regulations, and in return Houston's may decide to say f it, and really morph into another concept, or leave NYC, temporarily, until the smaller restaurants fight "the good fight" to plead for mercy, just to spare their businesses. Many will not survive, because it is costly, time-consuming, and sometimes confusing  work to accurately account calories and sodium, for a menu. Especially if you have little experience in such matters. Daily specials will be avoided, because it means tons of additional "paper" work, for smaller restaurants, who already struggle to keep up with the big boys.

        It is a calculated smoke-screen to dodge focus from the real issues that many restaurants try to keep to themselves. The calorie and sodium counts, of many of their menu selections , are VERY VERY high, and sometimes very offensive. The food is so rich and creamy, for a reason. You get very thirsty, for a reason.  The devil IS in the details, and the details would be a sobering shock to many of the patrons that eat certain menu items on a very regular basis, instead of a moderate basis. What you do not know CAN hurt you, but as long as so many people are happy not knowing that their dinner is supplying at LEAST a few days worth of calories, fat, and sodium at a single sitting, they are happy to block it from their mind, and live in denial...and these restaurant are happy they feel that way, and wish to continue statue quo.

        I think the regulations are in response to some startling numbers, about some restaurant selections. Like over 2900 calories and 182 grams of fat, for a plate of Aussie Fries at Outback. It is good to enjoy yourself, but it is also good for some light to be shed of just how CRAZY it is really is getting, out there, in restaurants.

        Some have ABSOLUTELY no clue. Many years ago, everyone smoked cigarettes, on television. It has very harmful health ramifications, and everyone is reminded of that fact, in the form of warnings on cigarette packaging, regulations against commercial advertising, taxes, public service announcements, etc.

        In many cases obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, and hypertension, is caused by uninformed patrons who are not privy to some of these numbers in the foods they eat. Many just chalk it up to these traits and diseases run in their family history, and they have NO way to prevent being effected by such conditions. That is not the case. Moderation and/or avoidance of constant consumption of copious amounts  of certain foods, helps fight the battle against such diseases and conditions.

        <message edited by CCinNJ on Mon, 12/22/08 3:59 AM>

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          Re:Houston's Debating a Name Change..In Manhattan Mon, 12/22/08 7:16 AM (permalink)
          Baah Ben,
          Yes, I believe the number still is 15. We had a thread about it here on RF and one of these days I will learn how to use the new search function. The local restaurant association fought it in court, etc. etc. etc. You go into a Nathan's now and they have signs giving nuitrition info so their menu sign area is now huge. I believe other cities have enacted or are thinking about enacting such a law.

          This law applies to all five boroughs of NYC.
          CCinNJ wrote a very good analysis. I think the do-gooders who wanted this law knew it was unfair and would lead to cat-and-mouse games, but would settle for whatever they could get.

          Of course, three or four years down the line the city will not enforce the law. The, we are ready for another generation of health inspectors to become corrupt and they will all get fired again and then no one will enforce the laws for a while again. 
          <message edited by David_NYC on Mon, 12/22/08 7:17 AM>

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            Re:Houston's Debating a Name Change..In Manhattan Mon, 12/22/08 12:46 PM (permalink)
            The very negative aspect of the issue is when the lawmakers decide to use the issue to justify an agenda, because they can hide behind the "problem" aspect and spin it, for a new way to create yet another tax, for the masses.


            <message edited by CCinNJ on Mon, 12/22/08 12:48 PM>
              Michael Hoffman

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              • Location: Gahanna, OH
              Re:Houston's Debating a Name Change..In Manhattan Mon, 12/22/08 1:10 PM (permalink)

              Maybe they just got tired of explaining that it's not HOUSE-ton's.
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