Leawood, Kan.-based Houlihan’s Restaurants Inc. plans to start franchising a higher-end growth vehicle it has kept in park for the past 25 years: J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood. That’s in addition to reaccelerating unit openings to between 10 and 15 per year. The five-unit upscale-casual brand, named for legendary Kansas City restaurateur Joe Gilbert, is one of several specialty restaurant concepts Houlihan’s owns, in addition to its namesake ...

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