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Houlihan's, Glastonbury Closed

j
JayCT Jul 6, 2009 11:33 AM

I drove by Houlihan's Restaurant in Glastonbury the other day and it appears to have closed. The driveway has been blocked off with "No Trespassing" signs and the front windows have been partially boarded up. It almost looked as if there was a fire or something there but I have not read anything in the paper about that. Anyone have an idea what happened. I do know that the place has only done a marginal business since it opened. We were in there for drinks after work a few weeks ago and it was pretty quite for a Friday night. Let me know if anyone knows what happened. Thanks, Jay

  1. f
    FoodieJim Jul 7, 2009 10:09 AM

    Never went, but I have to say that I am surprised at the uniform distain for the place given the high regard most people have for J. Gilbert's.

    20 Replies
    1. re: FoodieJim
      BiscuitBoy Jul 8, 2009 05:53 AM

      Are you in some way comparing Houlihans to Gilbert's? That's quite a stretch

      1. re: BiscuitBoy
        kattyeyes Jul 8, 2009 06:08 AM

        I concur wholeheartedly and was restraining my fingers from posting because I'm not even sure why this post remains on the New England board rather than the chain board. It's been too many years for me to even recall if I've ever eaten at Houlihan's (never mind when!). OTOH, we go to J Gilbert's with some regularity and while it's often loud, I would in no way compare it to Houlihan's. We have NEVER had anything less than a delicious meal and great service at J Gilbert's. Also, they are forever mailing us coupons to lure us back...and it works! ;)

        1. re: BiscuitBoy
          f
          FoodieJim Jul 8, 2009 06:23 AM

          Not comparing at all. Just pointing out that with a centralized corporate management, one would think that corporate HQ would not let one of its restaurants perform so badly while its sister across the street did so well. They are hiring from the same pool of potential workforce, so you would think that the quality of workers should be similar. And if the sister restaurant across the street doesn't run out of beer, why should Houlihan's. You would assume that the beer distributor hits up the two restaurants at the same time. And you would also think that they would work with the same vendors and purveyors. Bottom line is that two restaurants with common ownership that exist right across the street from one another should have more similarities than differences. That's all.

          1. re: FoodieJim
            kattyeyes Jul 8, 2009 06:30 AM

            Now THAT is interesting--I had no idea the two were related. Thanks for clarifying.

            1. re: kattyeyes
              f
              FoodieJim Jul 8, 2009 06:33 AM

              Yes. J. Gilbert's is part of the Houlihan's restaurant family. Sorry. I thought that was common knowledge. Here is a link:
              http://www.retailmanager.net/houlihan...

              1. re: FoodieJim
                geminigirl Jul 8, 2009 07:36 AM

                wow, interesting, did not know this either, thanks for the link...

                1. re: FoodieJim
                  BiscuitBoy Jul 8, 2009 07:38 AM

                  I didn't know either, 4 Gilbert's and 100 Houlihans. Corporate umbrella? Nobody is going to mistake an LS460 for a Yaris, even though Toyota makes'em both. Point is, I'm guessing a different kind of time and care go into Gilbert's rather than Houlihan's. And running out of beer, wow. That's on the store manager

                  1. re: BiscuitBoy
                    f
                    FoodieJim Jul 8, 2009 09:36 AM

                    "Nobody is going to mistake an LS460 for a Yaris, even though Toyota makes'em both. Point is, I'm guessing a different kind of time and care go into Gilbert's rather than Houlihan's."

                    Apparently there is a different level of care. But it doesn't have to be so. For example, in your point about the Lexus and the Yaris, I'll be the work conditions, wages, and benefits for the workers who make each model are very similar (if not identical), and the raw material suppliers for the cars themselves heavily overlap. (Though I doubt too much rosewood and a lot less leather gets purchased for the Yarises.)

                    1. re: FoodieJim
                      t
                      thos Jul 9, 2009 12:08 PM

                      I am also surprised at the high regard for J Gilberts, especially the service, though I like the bar. To my mind this place is no better than average. On one visit the young waitress corrected my pronunciation of a French wine (she was wrong). I smiled. On another, my son had ordered a steak medium and it came to the table rare. The waiter actually argued that "this is the way that J Gilbert cooks medium." Hmmm. Great service? No no. Good food makes up for anything, but after 3 gristly sirloins in 6 trips I think I am done. Funny. I was at Houlihan's once, but found the service better than the corporate sister. (The food? Not so hot).

                      1. re: thos
                        kattyeyes Jul 9, 2009 03:47 PM

                        As with anything, your mileage may vary. I've never had a service experience at J Gilbert's similar to what you've described above and we have always enjoyed our meals. I've eaten there at least a half dozen times in the past 9 months and never had less than great service (no one corrected me, helpful wine recommendations, pleasant staff, filet mignon cooked rare as ordered). Their crab cakes and crab bisque are excellent. My only complaint is the place can be too loud to have a conversation, so with the exception of the pre-Christmas lunch we had (they are otherwise not open for lunch), the noise level can be off-putting. But not the service or the food. OH! And sitting in the tables in the bar is SO noisy and crowded, after one such experience, we vowed never to eat in the bar again. So back to my original statement, YMMV.

                        1. re: kattyeyes
                          j
                          JayCT Jul 10, 2009 06:35 AM

                          I knew that Gilberts is owned by Houlihans. When the building that Gilberts is in was first proposed, it was suppose to be a Houlihans Restaurant not an upscale steak house. I too find Gilberts to be just okay. The decor is not much better than Houlihans and when you are spending top $$$ I would like to look at something a bit more interesting than standard mid-level restaurant decor. Anyway, it is too bad when any restaurant closes. This building use to be Bennigans which last only a few years too. Some people think the building is kind of hidden but it is on a busy street and right in the middle of the business district so I doubt location is much of a factor. The 99 Restaurant is located behind several businesses and it seems to do well. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Houlihans site now. The building is boarded up now and looks terrible. Not sure why the owner did this. It is kind of an eyesore right in the middle of the upscale Somerset Square area. I just hope something comes in there soon but it was vacant for several years between Bennigans and Houlihans. Jay

                          1. re: JayCT
                            BiscuitBoy Jul 10, 2009 08:55 AM

                            "just okay" wow, you and thos are brutal. Since you live in the area, recommend me a good steakhouse for similar money. Maybe I'm missing something

                            1. re: BiscuitBoy
                              kattyeyes Jul 10, 2009 04:07 PM

                              You're missing nothing, BiscuitBoy. I've been to Ruth's Chris and J Gilbert's and don't see the difference EXCEPT perhaps that Ruth's Chris can be quieter. I find the food to be comparable.

                              1. re: kattyeyes
                                t
                                thos Jul 10, 2009 06:50 PM

                                Well I don't find the meat comparable. RC and Morton's have better steaks, though I feel Max Downtown is better than all of them. The sides are a bit better at J Gilberts, and, of course, the prices are too. I concur w the crabcakes at Gilberts though recently someone complained about them on this board. Morton's and R Chris have some "splainin to do" when it comes to the supporting cast for the star attraction. Morton's could not exist without the expense account folk. I find their onion loaf bread especially amusing. SQUISH. What's more, saying a place is "average" is not brutal, just a studied opinion. One more thing - Gilbert's should lose the southwest angle. Too many places do that already. If you want to be a steakhouse be one.

                                1. re: thos
                                  kattyeyes Jul 11, 2009 04:32 AM

                                  I appreciate that feedback--it makes much more sense to me. Too much time generally lapses between visits to different places specifically for filet mignon, so it's difficult (maybe impossible) for me to remember/compare with any current frame of reference.

                                  You also raise an interesting point about the meat vs. the sides. I notice this in other people's assessments of, say, Thai places--they'll say they like restaurant A better than B...but I often wonder, what are you ordering that makes you say so? Some places are better overall--quality, taste, ambiance, service, experience, etc.--though some places may have really great curry and tom ka gai. And if all you (not you, personally) order are spring rolls and pad thai, your mileage will definitely vary from mine. So I do appreciate the clarification--thanks, thos!

                                  Maybe it's time for us to try Max Dowtown next time we feel like a steak. Noise-wise, I'm guessing it's an easier place to have a conversation than J Gilberts, yes? And what else do you like at Max? Thanks for the steer (so to speak!). ;)

                                  1. re: kattyeyes
                                    j
                                    JayCT Jul 14, 2009 06:54 AM

                                    I agree that Max Downtown is a better option for steak than any of them. We have had some excellent meals there. The other Max restaurants are similar with quality though they offer a more varied menu which includes steak. You may want to check one of them out instead of treking into downtown. Jay

                                    1. re: JayCT
                                      kattyeyes Jul 14, 2009 07:29 AM

                                      I've been to Max Amore and can't stand it because it's too loud. I would be willing to give Max Downtown a try now that I'm working downtown again (well, not precisely, but close enough). Hopefully that's a different atmosphere. I want to get to ON20 first. That's been on my list a LONG time! :)

                                      1. re: kattyeyes
                                        j
                                        JayCT Jul 20, 2009 01:29 PM

                                        I too am not crazy for Max Amore. The decor is not anything special (better than Gilberts IMHO) and it is loud. I like the dinning room at Max Fish though. Jay

                                      2. re: JayCT
                                        BiscuitBoy Jul 14, 2009 03:55 PM

                                        Mortons is very good but a little too $$$, plus the whole parking thing. Where do you like to park when going to Max's?

                                        1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                          t
                                          thos Jul 16, 2009 10:42 AM

                                          Max will validate if you park in their garage (go left, then left again just past the restaurant. While not free, there is a small hotel one street parallel to Main (? Columbus) that is an easy walk to Morton's. Sorry, don't remember the name of it.

          2. mels Jul 7, 2009 10:03 AM

            Good riddance. Before they came to G-bury I was well aware of their mediocrity. However, I went there for happy hour after work with some coworkers since it was convenient for most people to grab a beer. They were out of all but 1 beer on tap and just seemed to shrug it off as if to say this s--- happens at Houlihans.

            1. r
              Rhody Dave Jul 6, 2009 01:03 PM

              You should be thankful. An old friend of mine used to call them "Houli-hideous", which I always that was an accurate statement.

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