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Feb 24, 2008 05:05 PM

houston's st. charles..we have a problem!

tried to dine sunday night at 6pm and was told the restaurant was booked with reservations...even the barstools. anyone have any like experience there?

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  1. Yep, but that was on Mother's day a few years ago when I forgot what day it was and tried to go there.

    1. I quit trying to eat at Houston's years ago; the Metairie location takes no reservations, and I refuse to wait in line. Sometimes you can get a bar seat easily out there, but when I do make the effort, I'm always left thinking, "why did I bother?" I can't ever figure out why people will wait an hour to get into the joint.

      1. Check out the quote below. I'm going to make the educated guess that Houston's concept is identical to the one at Outback referenced below that intentionally makes the customer wait:

        TAMPA -- Lines of people waiting to get into Outback Steakhouse restaurants aren't as long these days, thanks to a new corporate policy that allows customers to call ahead for a place in line.

        For 14 years, the chain's 225-seat restaurants with small lobbies were designed to keep crowds out front so they would appear busy. Analysts say the goal was to make people want to wait for dinner.

        "The inference is that this place must be great if people are waiting on line for one-and-a-half hour," said Erik Gordon, director of research for the retail center at the University of Florida.

        Outback led the trend of restaurants handing flashing, vibrating or beeping timers to customers willing to wait for an hour or two in frequently uncomfortable settings. The chain's operators say waiting is part of the dining experience.

        "We believe there's a certain magic to having to wait," said Paul Avery, president of Outback Steakhouse of Florida Inc.

        That last quote from Paul Avery is amazing, and more evidence why friends don't let friends eat at chains. Not to get off on a rant here, but my wife and I looked in amazement at the overrun parking lot of Cheesecake Bistro on Veterans as we drove by this weekend. We wondered why so many would choose to subject themselves an eternal wait in anticipation of...what? Mediocre food? Imagine how much better our already great restaurant scene could become if those patrons would just vote with their feet (and forks).

        1 Reply
        1. re: jeffchow

          I've been to Houston's, but it's been several years ago, and remember it being very good. However, there is no restaurant in the world that I'm going to wait for an hour or longer to be seated. Especially in NO where you have so many other choices.

        2. I think Houston's is pretty good for what it is. No, it's not gourmet dining, but the food is good. I like the veggie burger and grilled fish sandwiches. Does anyone know why they got rid of Gulfstream?

          4 Replies
          1. re: breakaway

            From City Business:

            Houston's makes St. Charles comeback

            NEW ORLEANS — On Monday, Houston’s Restaurant will return to New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

            The restaurant, at 1755 St. Charles Ave., which operated as a Houston’s prior to Katrina, opened in Jan. 2006 as Gulfstream Restaurant, manager Sheamus Feeley said.

            Both Houston’s and Gulfstream are owned by Los Angeles-based Hillstone Restaurant Group.

            The New Orleans location will be one of roughly 30 Houston’s across the country.

            “Houston’s is just the right fit for the city,” said Feeley, who said much at the restaurant will remain the same after the switch, including its 100-person staff.

            The restaurant’s fare will change slightly. Gulfstream specializes in seafood while Houston’s focus is on traditional American cuisine.

            The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.

            1. re: breakaway

              The past few times I have been I felt like the portion size decreased and the prices increased.

              1. re: robrob

                Sorry, but I do not wait for supper. I'm all about a leisurely meal and drinks. But I do not stand in line and I do not wait in the bar for more than 15 minutes. If I can make reservations, that's great. If I cannot, I try to go at times when things aren't as busy. But, particularly at a chain, being forced to wait for real or trumped-up reasons isn't what I'm going to do. Life is too short - especially in a great food city like New Orleans. And at a Houston's? Forget it.

                1. re: ZydecoPlayer

                  If I didn't know better, I would have thought I wrote your post myself. Thank you & feel the same way!

            2. I can only guess, but many corporate restaurants refuse to seat folk, even when the restaurants are virtually empty, to sell appetizers and drinks. It is/was a policy with Outback, Joe's Crab Shack and several others of that ilk. There have been several articles in restaurant trade mags. on how this impacts their bottom line. I know OF the Houston's restaurants, but do not specifically recall them being named in any of these articles. However, I also feel that most restaurant corporations read these and structure their policies to match. After all, most are run by MBAs and not chefs. It is about the bottom line. They also wish to create the buzz, that they are a hot topic in their town, with lines stretching around the block. Galatoire's is about the only restaurant that I will wait in line for.