Houston’s in Preston Center is Changing Name to Hillstone

Got this note from Amy Severson late last night:

Houston’s Preston Center will be changing their name to Hillstone by the end of July. Addison will remain Houston’s. Our wonderful server said something about being able to offer more regional “somethings.”  I don’t know exactly, I was busy noticing they had Merryvale Chardonnay (by the glass) back on the menu – FOR $4 LESS PER GLASS THAN A YEAR AGO!  Of course some of that is because the vineyards have been slashing prices, still, 1/3 (almost) less. I did notice that their French Dip had gone up $1. Also, the old Houston’s location on Walnut Hill has applied for a liquor license as Glen Lakes Grill.

Hmm. This is a curious move. The name Hillstone doesn’t make me hungry. “Hey, honey. Let’s go to Hillstone’s.” Guess it works in Boston, New York, and San Francisco.  I thought Houston’s was the restaurant everybody wanted to be? Now Houston’s is putzing with Houston’s?

24 comments on “Houston’s in Preston Center is Changing Name to Hillstone

  1. Here’s the San Francisco take on the conversion they did: http://sf.eater.com/archives/2010/02/10/houstons_would_rather_be_known_as_hillstone_now_thanks.php

    I’m thinking (guessing) that Houston’s is trying to regionalize their restaurants to make them more appealing on a local level. If people want their traditional dishes they can still find them in Addison, but this gives the restaurant group a chance to try something new (and bring in people who want to see what it’s all about) in a great dining out neighborhood.

    Their standards of food quality and service are incredible for such a large chain. I’m proud to be a former Houston’s server (’90-Walnut Hill).

  2. I know it will come as a shock to some, but the name “Houston’s” carries a Texas connotation. In many places … for example, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco … those connotations are not ALL positive. (In New York, it’s even pronounced differently.) Plus, the chain is now owned by Hillstone Restaurant Group of Beverly Hills, CA.

  3. They appear to be “de-chaining” the chain. Probably will be the same everywhere but with the appearance of being different in a quasi locavare move. Funny. Mcdonalds shpould do this. McDiggles. McDawgles. McDump.

  4. the one in denver has always been called “Cherry Creek Grill”…as a former account exec, i pity this firm’s ad agency! wait, no i don’t, this would quadruple the billable hours.

  5. “Houston’s” didn’t work as a national name –

    Particularly in cities that have rivalries against the Rockets or Astros or Texans, or some political grudge against Houston or Texas.

    For the same reason, St. Louis Bread Co. changed its name when it went nationwide. (Too many Cardinals or Blues rivals.) That’s why we now go to — Panera.

  6. Wonder if they’ll still offer the Chicago Dip on the new menu? Maybe they’ll change it to Frisco or Arlington Dip. I’ve never NOT waited on a table at the park cities location so hard to believe the current formula wasn’t working.

  7. Perhaps nutritional labeling regulations forthcoming – if they de-chain they won’t have to report calories, etc…on their menu due to their smaller size

  8. Twinwillow, where exactly do you get your information? The CEO of Hillstone opened Houston’s in 1977. Who said anything about new owners?

  9. The other original owner Joe Ledbetter of Nashville sold to Hillstone several years ago and George Biel the other owner who sold his interest became CEO of Hillstone. The first store was in Nashville and not Houston as many believe. 8-10 years ago they were negotiating for the spot on Cedar Springs by the Quadrangle to open a concept called Turtle Creek Grill but Bill Esping outbid them for the space and opened Perry’s which has become The Place at Perry’s.

  10. The ones in NYC changed their name to Hillstone over a year ago in an effort to circumvent the city’s new rules requiring restaurants to post calories for the items on the menu. The rule only applies to chains with 15 or more locations operating under the same name with a standard menu. The city tried to fight them on this at first but eventually backed off.

  11. Ownership and management aren’t changing. They will still have all the favorties we have all loved over the years. I think the name change will be positive. The server told us that the Hillstone brand will give them a little more “creative licensing” as far as the menu goes. I love the new appetizer Oysters St. Charles! Has anyone been on their patio lately? I love the feel of the outdoor area and they have a new drink menu and the cocktails are fabulous!

  12. Justathought, I don’t believe they are exempt regarless of naming. I believe it is based on number of locations, not number of same-named locations.

  13. laurak,

    Hillstone had 15+ locations in NYC? Seems hard to believe.

  14. Darnell, it’s for 15 or more locations nationwide, not just in NYC. There are only two Houston’s/Hillstone’s in Manhattan.

  15. This brings to mind the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  16. I just don’t understand. Why would you change the name of your restaurant if all you wanted to do is add/delete menu items. How about just leave the name and add/delete menu items… This is a brand killer. And I’m with Laurie… if it ain’t broke… don’t fix it. Seriously – this is just plain stupid.

  17. Why in the world would Houston’s change their name when they have been so successful here in the Dallas/Park Cities area?

    I used to work across the street from the Houston’s on Walnut Hill and ate there almost every day. It was almost packed. When the restaurant on Preston opened up, I assumed the company would keep both restaurauts. Instead they opted to close the Walnut Hill restaurant, thereby ensuring long lines (once again) at the restaurant. We LOVE Houston’s, but many times we skip it because we know there will be a wait. Why can’t they just leave things as they are or open up another Houston’s close by?