In the spring of 1977, Hillstone Restaurant Groups’ founder George Biel, established Houston’s in Nashville, Tennessee. There are now 11 Houston’s locations in the U.S. that are all food-oriented around American classics with a palette ranging from burgers to salads to fish. However, today’s experience at Houston’s establishment has fully changed since their doors first opened.
The restaurant was once family-friendly, but no longer offers a menu for kids. Instead, the establishment now caters to an older crowd with its high-end, trendy atmosphere. “We prefer to host experiences based on smaller, more intimate parties of two,” says Houston’s website. The restaurant doesn’t appeal to family celebrations or large gatherings any more.
While prices are escalating, the food quality and variety are decreasing. The famous shoestring fries have been replaced with thicker fries that lack the crisp of the original ones. The 19-dollar spinach artichoke dip is served with burnt chips that are hard as rock.
A main staple on the menu, the chicken tender platter, was removed at the start of COVID-19, and remains absent. Consequently, this provoked college students into creating an Instagram page called “Bring Back the Tendies” in protest of the retired food item. The Instagram page has gained over 4,000 followers and includes a Go Fund Me page that raised money to put up a billboard over the Northside Parkway location that would say “Bring Back the Tendies” in bold letters. The Go Fund Me Page caught the attention of newscasters from CBS 46 News and WSB-TV; however, their vision of the billboard was suppressed by Houston’s in order to preserve their reputation.
Senior Alexandra Litvak dined at Houston’s restaurant a couple of months ago with Pace alumna Grace Hatfield (’21). When they arrived at the restaurant, they were dressed coded by a server because they were wearing athletic wear and received a card from the server of what clothes are acceptable to wear, making them feel extremely uncomfortable. “The server said they would let us in this time, but they would not let us in if we did it again,” said Litvak. “They were all staring at us when we were walking through, and when we sat down, people were giving us weird looks the whole time. It was so weird and embarrassing.” Houston’s restaurant could have handled the situation differently in order to treat them with respect and not regard them in such a strange manner. “I don’t like the food that much. It is kind of overrated. Since they have gotten rid of the chicken tenders, I don’t think I will go back,” said Litvak.