Back in December national upscale grill chain Houston's rebranded its two New York locations as Hillstone, adding a seasonal menu and, later, sushi. However, to avoid losing old customers and to maintain that hour-long wait time, the Houston's signs were not removed and remain up to this day. A few commenters immediately suspected foul play, accusing the chain of rebranding to avoid the new calorie count rule in NYC, which requires chain restaurants (no matter how high end) with more than 12 locations to post all calories on the menu. Complying would potentially obliterate the sales on that delicious spinach artichoke dip.
Today Crain's confirms the theory. The city is taking Houston's/Hillstone to court for violating the calorie posting rule, the first case of its kind since the law went into effect last May. While Houston's reps refuse to give in, arguing that they don't operate like a chain and that they should be exempt because they use local purveyors, the DOH is not having it. And as Crain's notes, they'll have to fight this battle all over again when the calorie rules spread to other states and pass on a national level.
· Eater Fights Calorie Police [Crain's]
· NYC Menu Mayhem [NYP]
· Houston's Rebrands Itself as Hillstone, Adds Seasonal Menu [~E~]