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Jonesboro’s Latest
Upscale Dining Experience

By Cody Moore, Photography by Kayla Broadway

Houlihan’s, one of the newest additions to Jonesboro’s restaurant scene, has quickly become a hot spot for locals looking for a casual lunch or an elegant dinner set in a modern, relaxed atmosphere.

Houlihan’s first opened its doors in Kansas City, Mo. in April 1972 and currently has more than 80 franchised locations across the United States. The Jonesboro location opened earlier this year thanks to O’Reilly Hospitality Management, a hospitality firm that specializes in the design, development and staffing of hotels, restaurants and commercial properties.

The general manager of Jonesboro’s Houlihan’s location, Henry Burrell, a Louisiana native, moved to Jonesboro with his wife and three children in 2017 to expand his career within the food industry.

“I’ve been a restaurant operations professional for over 25 years with upward career growth in corporate restaurants,” said Burrell. “I’ve specialized in strategic planning of market turnaround, restaurant development and bench planning. A major part of my success has been the ability to leverage my coaching leadership style to develop people and teams.”

Throughout his career, Burrell has worked for several franchise restaurants such as Taco Bell, where he served as the director of operations overseeing 49 corporate locations, as well as Cici’s Pizza, where he served 28 East Coast locations at the regional level.

While searching other local job opportunities online, Burrell noticed an opening for a position with O’Reilly Hospitality Management as a general manager for the incoming Jonesboro Houlihan’s location.

“After applying for the new job, I had interview with Jessie Lannon, the regional director of O’Reilly, and Tim O’Reilly, the owner, and the rest is history,” said Burrell.

Houlihan’s in Jonesboro opened its doors in January of this year and currently employs more than 100 people, including servers, managers, chefs and more. Because of his experience, Burrell is positive that he has what it takes to help this location to reach peak success.

“My past experiences have been critical to the success of this opening,” said Burrell. “It has helped in building partnerships with hotel leadership to make this facility world class. … And assembling a staff of over 100 team members with one goal in mind: to do whatever it takes to make a guest smile.”

Upon walking into Houlihan’s, guests will notice the sleek, upscale dining areas designed for socializing, as well as an open kitchen view.

“Houlihan’s is known for its social scene, as well as for being a restaurant for everything from a casual business lunch to a romantic dinner,” said Burrell. “We are a scratch kitchen; 90 percent of our menu, including soups and sauces, are made in-house.”

The exceptional service, attention to design, unique menu items and drink options are what set Houlihan’s apart from other area franchise restaurants. Jonesboro’s location also has an in-house chef that excels in food quality and culinary knowledge.

“I was fortunate in recruiting John Bearden to be our chef,” said Burrell. “John has an impeccable eye for quality and tremendous food knowledge. John also has a track record of success as a culinarian, ranging from Doe’s Eat Place to Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.

“John and I make a great team. We also have Sara Lucas and Jesse Sisco running the front of house, the bar and our social media. They bring a desire and passion that is hard to find in young leaders.”

Houlihan’s lunch and dinner menus include a wide range of American-style plates filled with bold flavors. The menus include everything from small appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, salads, steaks and an array of unique main courses.

Among Houlihan’s most popular menu items are the Houlihan’s Famous ‘Shrooms appetizer, fresh mushrooms stuffed with garlic-herb cream cheese; the Meatloaf No. 9, meatloaf cooked to perfection and topped with red wine mushroom gravy served with honest gold mashers and garlic green beans; and the Seared Salmon Pesto, spaghetti squash noodles topped with chive pesto, crushed tomatoes, cotija cheese and a balsamic glaze.

“I also recommend trying the Korean Chicken, which is a gochujang chicken with stir fried rice with cilantro, red bell peppers, snow peas, scallions and pineapple relish,” said Burrell. “The Stuffed Chicken Breast, which is stuffed with garlic-herb cream cheese and served with honest gold mashers, is also a good choice.”

Houlihan’s offers a “Pre-Fixe” dinner menu, allowing guests to choose certain menu items for a delicious three-course meal for $20. Lunch combos are also available starting at $11.95.

“We have weekly specials for those who join our email club, as well,” said Burrell. “It does not take any time to fill out. … It not only notifies you of weekly specials, but you get a free meal on your birthday with an incentive just for signing up.”

Guests can register for Houlihan’s email club online or when they visit the establishment.

Because of its location adjacent to the new Embassy Suites by Hilton Jonesboro Red Wolf Convention Center on the Arkansas State University campus, Burrell and his staff have been working closely with the hotel management, as well as A-State organizations, for future collaborations.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to partner with two great organizations, those being A-State and Embassy Suites,” said Burrell. “We look forward to working with student organizations, as well as faculty, administration and staff at A-State on joint projects.

“We are currently on the Advisory Committee with ASU Newport for their culinary program. We are also a part of the Earth Day Committee at A-State to do our part in sustainability.”

Though Houlihan’s is a franchised business, each location works to be as involved as possible within the community that it serves.

“One of the pillars on which O’Reilly Hospitality is built is community involvement,” said Burrell. “Houlihan’s is involved with St. Jude’s, Make-A-Wish Foundation and The Black Professionals Network. … One of our most exciting involvements is volunteering for Jonesboro Visual and Performing Art School’s Lunch Buddy program.”

Since opening its doors, the Jonesboro community has welcomed Houlihan’s with open arms and has given positive reviews.
“So far, we have been welcomed with a 4.9 out of 5-star rating,” said Burrell. “We listen to all of the feedback we receive in order to deliver on our goal of being the premier dining experience in Jonesboro.”

Houlihan’s Jonesboro, located at 225 Red Wolf Blvd., is open Monday through Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. For more information on daily specials and announcements, find Houlihan’s Jonesboro on Facebook, visit houlihans.com/my-houlihans/jonesboro or call (870) 627-5340.