Serious foodies often look down on chain restaurants. It is true that a chain generally doesn’t offer the same innovations found in the kitchen of a stand-alone restaurant with a well-trained professional chef. However, what chains lose in innovation, they often make up for in consistency; and is consistency really such a bad thing? Good restaurant chains work hard to offer a un-fluctuating, quality dining experience for their guests. The high sales of many chains prove, guests really do appreciate being able to walk in to any location of their favorite place and get their favorite steak cooked the way they like it. LongHorn Steakhouse, which had its first Colorado location opened in Northglenn less then two months ago, is shaping up to be one of Denver’s best chains and will likely become a local dinner favorite.
LongHorn Steakhouse was founded back in 1981 by George McKerrow, Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally a single restaurant with very few customers, LongHorn blossomed into a national chain with over 136 locations in 2001. In 2007 LongHorn became part of the Darden restaurant family, which also owns other chains with major reach like Olive Garden and Red Lobster. As of 2014 there are over 450 LongHorn locations, in 40 states. One of the newest locations is in Northglenn, at the still-under-construction Webster Lake Promenade. The promenade is an urban renewal project spearheaded by the City of Northglenn.
The City of Northglenn generally doesn’t do a lot of building, nor do new restaurants open frequently within the city. Once complete, the Promenade will offer much needed new restaurant choices to Northglenn. If the long lines out the door are any indication, Northglenn residents are very excited about LongHorn's arrival.
Managing partner Tracy Ovitt told The Daily Meal there has been “overwhelming interest, both from Northglenn residents and from surrounding areas.” As one might imagine, the wait times for a table have been long with such a major influx of customers.
Coconut chili mahi-mahi (credit: Michelle Sandstrom)
However, other then a wait, which is to be expected for any hot new establishment, the restaurant is preforming very well. Ovitt attributes this to having great people on staff, but he is also clearly a capable manager and organized the initial hiring wisely. He was able to start off with several experienced staff members from other LongHorn restaurants and hire highly motivated people locally. After, a terrific group of trainers worked with everyone for two weeks to get ready for the opening. Certainly, this has all paid off as waitstaff are very friendly and knowledgeable; and perhaps most importantly, the cooks know how to prepare a steak properly. Ovitt himself is also willing to step in whenever needed to help ensure that things run smoothly.
“I’m not afraid to get in there and get my hands dirty but, I also know when to leave it alone and let my staff do their jobs,” he said.
Of course, the food is a major factor in LongHorn preforming well. It’s quite good. The cooks behind the line really do know how to prepare a nice steak. LongHorn representatives are quick to point out that their steaks are fresh, never frozen, which certainly makes a difference in food quality. You really can’t go wrong with a big juicy steak here. Ovitt’s personal favorite is the outlaw ribeye; though the king of all cuts, the filet, is terrific as well. The new spring seasonal menu is also a little more interesting than that of many chain restaurants. Spring selections include holden beets, a current foodie favorite, roasted and then topped with goat cheese crumbles; the farmers market bib salad with bib lettuce, grilled asparagus, and mandarin oranges; and the coconut chili mahi-mahi that has a nice balance between sweet and savory flavors.
LongHorn Steakhouse is definitely worth a visit, both for the food and the experience. They will likely continue to improve even more as time goes on as the staff learns to adapt even better to the restaurants high customer volume.
“I am always looking at opportunities for improvement,” said Ovitt.