Houlihan’s Distinguishes Itself in Local Casual Dining


Houlihan’s gets lumped in with casual dining behemoths Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s and Chili’s, most likely due to their abundance in the Northeast US. While the chain has all the telltale signs of a 1000+ unit operation (national recognition, standardized specials, common design-look and feel), Houlihan’s only operates just under 100 locations. In Bergen County and the surrounding areas, Houlihan’s is run by a local franchisee which runs outlets in NY, NJ and PA.

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While corporate Houlihan’s might provide guidance on menus, promotions and more, our local Houlihan’s have catered the menus to local tastes and preferences. Certain dishes remain on the menu after being removed years ago, while other concepts like small plates are featured more prominently here than in Midwestern locations. Apparently NYC-metro folks like to order dishes to share, which is something not as common across the board at their restaurants according to Ramsey location chef Thomas Gartland.


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Of course the biggest key difference between Houlihan’s and those casual-dining “competitors” is that every Houlihan’s runs a scratch kitchen. Gartland says each location has a full kitchen staff prepping everything each day, including everything all the way down to their sauces, which is why they are able to offer what they feel is a better product. They make seasonal adjustments too, with the current winter months bringing the addition of their Pecan Chicken Salad, Roasted Chicken and DoNuggets.

Houlihan’s has been cognizant of changing dietary trends. Dishes with gluten free ingredients and vegetarian options have been marked and added to the menu, while lower calorie options (including drinks; see below) are prominently featured too.

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The bar is also an area that offers differentiation. The drink menu includes wine, beer (they’ve hopped on the craft beer trend and begun offering a rotating selection of beers each season) and specialty cocktails. For those watching their weight, there’s even a selection of drinks containing 150 calories or less. 

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This includes Happy Hour which they offer from 4:00pm till closing Mondays thru Fridays and 10pm till close on Saturdays and Sundays. Specials include $5, $6 and $7 appetizer options with $1 off adult beverages including all draft beers, select drinks and house wine.

Locally, Houlihan’s are located in Hasbrouck Heights, Paramus, Ramsey, Secaucus and Weehawken (location has outdoor patio during winter months with NYC views) seven days a week. For more information including menus, locations and more, visit their website at http://www.houlihans.com


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