La Feria News

Longhorn Steakhouse Brings New Dimension to Dining


The recently opened Longhorn Steakhouse in Harlingen offers a new dimension in dining

The nationwide reputation of the LONGHORN STEAKHOUSE preceded its grand opening last month, and caused a lot of excitement according to Rolando Rivera, Managing Partner of the new Harlingen location. “That’s why we’ve been almost at capacity since we opened our doors,” he said. “We are very pleased.”

“Our growth has been straight-up since the Darden Restaurants acquired the restaurant chain in 2007,” he said. “You’ll find 400 of our steakhouses in 37 states” he added. “That is quite a move from a sole restaurant in George–yes, Georgia, in 1981. There were 287 Longhorn Steakhouse locations when Darden Restaurants acquired the restaurant in 2007. There are now more than 400 locations spanning 37 states.”

You’d think with a name like “Longhorn”, that it began in Texas–well, it didn’t. Rivera explained that the original founder of the chain knew that people connected good, Angus beef steaks with the Lone Star state. So, what better choice for a name than LONGHORN.? And the rest is history.

The Darden Restaurants knows how to pick winners. They also own the popular and very successful Red Lobster seafood and Olive Garden Italian restaurants nationwide.


Managing Partner Rolando Rivera extends a personal invitation to visit his steakhouse

Rivera said that the appeal of his restaurant is the casual, relaxed atmosphere where conversation and camaraderie abound. The emphasis is on family get-togethers and special events. ”We’ve found that local businessmen find our place very convenient to meet sales representatives and talk over business plans, and entertain their own customers.” he said. “The Harlingen airport provides a lot of our customers–they come straight here and set up their day.”

There has to be something that you are doing that others don’t  to have such immediate success–What is it?  “We’re known for quality because our steaks, fish and chicken never come to us frozen–it is always delivered fresh to our kitchen,” Rivera said.  “Our bone-in Outlaw Ribeye is a house specialty.  Also, our 18 ounce T-bone and 20 ounce Porterhouse steaks are favorites; They are all works of art,” he said. The full-bar with ‘Black-and-Blue Margaritas and “Gold rush” Martinis bring in a lot of people–I think we’ve got the picture, Rolando. Now, let’s visit with you for a bit.

He relates that he started learning the restaurant trade at side of his father and brother-in-law when he was just 5-6 years-old in their “Queche’s” Mexican Restaurant in Brownsville–He never forgot.

He left to get his college degree in General Business Management and Finance. He tried working in a “cubicle” with a big Eastern corporation–”Not my cup of tea,” he found. He left that and went to work with Chili’s Grill and Bar. “That is where I learned to manage a restaurant and work with people,” he said, adding, “that is where I also met my wife; she was working there.” Then, he said, “I made the big leap forward and joined LONGHORN STEAK HOUSES in 2012—So, now my wife, Vanessa, and I are back home and happy with our three children: ‘Couldn’t be happier.’”

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