After two decades earning accolades from locals and operating as a hidden gem in Midwest and East Coast neighborhoods, J. Gilbert’s, one of five full-service restaurant brands owned and operated by Houlihan’s Restaurants, Inc., announced today that it will begin offering franchise opportunities.
Kansas City is rich with heritage in cattle stockyards, prohibition-era taverns and exceptional service. Bearing the name of legendary Kansas City restaurateur and hospitality icon, Joe Gilbert, J. Gilbert’s is known for its welcoming Midwestern culture and serving some of the best steaks in town at its five corporate-owned locations in Glastonbury, Connecticut; McLean, Virginia; Overland Park, Kansas; Columbus, Ohio; and St. Louis, Missouri. Communities and critics alike have consistently voted the locations, ‘Best Steakhouse,’ ‘Best Special Occasion Restaurant,’ ‘Diners Choice’ on Open Table, and most recently, ‘Restaurant of the Year’ in McLean, Virginia.
Now, company executives say they have decided to franchise J. Gilbert’s because they see a golden opportunity to compete in the fine dining category by carving a niche as an upscale experience with down-to-earth Midwestern value and hospitality — where entrées always include the sides. Additionally, the distinctive wood-fire grill lends unrivaled flavor to the menu selections.
“J. Gilbert’s provides something that’s currently missing in the full-service restaurant category: high-quality cuisine in a welcoming, non-intimidating atmosphere,” said Rob Ellis, CFO and Chief Development Officer for Houlihan’s Restaurants, Inc. “There’s something unique about the Midwestern culture, and J. Gilbert’s has captured that. The value and hospitality will resonate with consumers anywhere in the country. We look forward to finding the right franchise operators who are eager to introduce the proven concept in cities and towns nationwide.”
With a 7,000 square-foot footprint and a seating capacity for approximately 210 guests, each J. Gilbert’s location creates an environment that is open and accessible, while remaining cozy and chic. Luxe interiors balance warm, inviting details like fireplaces, reclaimed wood and rustic stone accents with sleek glass tile and modern, custom artwork. J. Gilbert’s real estate options range from traditional pads and highly visible end cap spaces in retail and lifestyle centers, to entertainment districts and mixed use developments. Vacant restaurants can be retrofitted with exterior signage and storefront or tower elements and cost-effectively converted to J.Gilbert’s. With the announcement of the new franchise opportunity, the distinguished restaurant concept is looking to bring two or three new locations to markets across the United States each year.
Franchise locations are expected to open for dinner only, with a strong emphasis and strength in serving business clientele and traveling guests as well as affluent local households.
In addition to efforts to source fresh meats from farms managing humanely raised and vegetarian-fed livestock, J. Gilbert’s also sources clean, seasonal and fair trade ingredients. Center-cut, aged USDA Prime steaks and seafood are grilled over an open wood fire by master grill chefs who bring the pride of craftsmanship to their trade. The Kansas City-inspired steakhouses have full bars that offer an extensive selection of alcoholic beverages, including more than 90 wine labels and J. Gilbert’s signature barrel-aged Manhattans, aged on premise in oak barrels.
While expanding through franchising, J. Gilbert’s will remain committed to maintaining its identity, seeking franchise developers with the same passion for providing a warm, welcoming environment for guests. Ideal franchise candidates will be successful full-service, multi-unit operators with expertise in one or more large markets. “We believe J.Gilbert’s provides an outstanding opportunity for successful operators to grow and diversify their restaurant investments,” said Ellis. The new franchised J. Gilbert’s locations will add a boom to local economies through investment dollars and job creation. Each location will have approximately 70 full and part-time employees and provide $1.5-3.5 million in local development contracts.
Through its parent company, Houlihan’s Restaurants, Inc., potential J. Gilbert’s franchise owners will benefit from a strong, experienced management team with a long history of franchising. The company’s existing franchise infrastructure provides extensive franchisee support, including culinary and purchasing; marketing; POS system support; initial and ongoing operational reviews and employee recruiting assistance.
“We are offering qualified restaurant operators an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of our J.Gilbert’s franchise system, yet have the benefit of a proven business model that has consistently performed well for nearly 20 years,” Ellis added.
J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood is an upscale restaurant known for its impeccable service, cozy bar scene and quality cuts of beef and seafood preparations. While competing in the fine dining category, J. Gilbert’s has carved a unique niche in offering an upscale experience with down-to-earth value — where dishes always include sides. The restaurant’s wood-fired grill lends unrivaled flavor to menu selections, adding authenticity to its exceptional steakhouse experience. J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood is privately owned by Houlihan’s Restaurants, Inc. which developed and owns several restaurant concepts including Houlihan’s, Bristol Seafood Grill, Chequers Seafood + Steak and Devon Seafood + Steaks. The company is headquartered in the Kansas City metro area. J. Gilbert’s currently has five locations operating in Connecticut, Virginia, Kansas, Ohio and Missouri. To inquire about franchise opportunities, visit jgilberts.com/steakhousefranchise.