The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
Houston's, the modern American chain restaurant that opened at Roosevelt Field in 1996, is closing. A sign on the restaurant's door says the last dinner service will be on Dec. 31.
A spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based Hillstone Restaurant Group, which operates 18 Houston's nationwide, said Wednesday the company was starting to do "smaller concepts" and that it was "actively pursuing something in western Long Island." As an example of "smaller," she cited East Hampton Grill, Hillstone's steak-and-seafood house in East Hampton. That restaurant seats about 100 people, half the capacity of Houston's.
Houston's in Roosevelt Field employs about 150 people, all of whom, she said, would be offered the chance to work at another Hillstone property. Besides East Hampton Grill, Hillstone operates two restaurants in Manhattan.
Simon Property Group, which operates Roosevelt Field, issued this statement: "While we have enjoyed having Houston's for many years, its departure is a planned part of our major reinvention of Roosevelt Field. Although we cannot announce specifics at this time, we are very excited about building an iconic new restaurant in this premier location."
The Garden City mall is undergoing a $200 million face-lift and expansion that will add dozens of new retailers, including Long Island's first Neiman Marcus.
Houston's is a chain restaurant that doesn't feel like one. Newsday's Joan Reminick wrote: "The casual-elegant American spot has been in a class apart from most chain restaurants, thanks to carefully prepared food and professional, solicitous service."
Reminick rated Houston's cheeseburger the best on Long Island. "The loosely formed patty, made of house-ground chuck seasoned with a proprietary spice blend, comes off an oak-fired grill gorgeously crusted, rich-tasting, subtly imbued with wood smoke," she wrote.