Bros. Houligan: Classic country eatery celebrates 25 years in Tulsa
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Restaurant Critic
Thursday, December 06, 2012
3/28/13 at 7:55 AM
Brothers Pat and Tim McMurchy didn't see chicken tenders and fried chicken livers in their future when they came to Tulsa in 1984 to run the 49-year-old Louisiane Restaurant.
The swanky Louisiane, known for seafood, steaks and Creole gumbo, had just undergone an ownership change, and Pat McMurchy was recruited from Kansas City to be general manager.
"The first weekend I came to see the restaurant I called Tim and said he had to come help fix the kitchen," Pat McMurchy said. "The building (at 18th Street and Boston Avenue) was a mess, and the kitchen situation was a mess."
"Once we got it going, the Louisiane really took off again," Tim added.
After the restaurant moved to 14th and Boston, then opened a second site at 81st Street and Memorial Drive, the brothers said the numbers started to decline noticeably.
"We could see the writing on the wall, so we started looking for a Plan B," Pat McMurchy said. "We decided to try our own restaurant."
"We looked at Kensington at 71st and Lewis, and we looked at 51st and Harvard and other places, but nothing seemed right," Tim McMurchy said.
They said they were driving down 15th Street one day and saw a "For lease" sign being put in the window of Snoozer's, a somewhat notorious hangout in its day.
They said they talked to building owner Ray Bagwell, who agreed to install kitchen equipment and roll that cost into the lease.
"It came to $447 a month, equipment and all," Pat McMurchy said.
Thus was born Bros. Houligan, which will celebrate its 25th birthday with parties and live music this Friday and Saturday night at The Vanguard, 222 N. Main St. Tickets are $5 each night, beginning at 7 p.m.
The brothers said the building originally held two pool tables, a jukebox, a pinball machine, a cigarette machine and about nine dining tables.
"Piece by piece we were able to replace those items with more dining space," Pat McMurchy said.
A third brother, Michael McMurchy, now deceased, joined the team, and the brothers eventually bought the building, added a second dining room, and in 2006, opened a second location at 61st Street and Mingo Road.
They installed a menu heavy on steaks, fried foods, burgers and gravy - lots and lots of thick country gravy.
The gravy seems to come with everything, and paired with Houligan's signature cottage fries, it is practically a meal in itself.
We recently visited the 15th Street restaurant because we are attached to the older building with all of the quirky and varied wall decorations.
"We took $100 to the flea market when we opened and filled the walls," Pat said.
My wife ordered the 18-ounce Tim's T-bone steak ($19.95). I was trying to decide among the fried chicken tenders ($9.95), fried chicken livers ($9.25) and chicken-fried steak ($9.25) when a sudden healthful impulse made me blurt out, "I'll have the grilled Norwegian salmon."
The steak was cooked to a perfect medium-rare and was tender and juicy. The 8-ounce salmon ($12.50) had a bit of a fishy odor but was flaky and fresh-tasting and came with a side of tangy horseradish sauce.
I balanced the salmon with cottage fries, aka waffle fries, and gravy, and we shared bowls of nicely seasoned green beans and a terrific, creamy coleslaw. A basic dinner side salad came with a flavorful house-made ranch dressing.
Bros. Houligan has full bar service and a small, separate bar area.
I couldn't quite figure out the waitstaff routine, but servers seemed to share tables with a smooth efficiency.
2508 E. 15th St., 918-747-1086
9701 E. 61st St., 918-254-1086
(on a scale of 0 to 4 stars)
15th Street: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-
Friday, 4-10 p.m. Saturday.
61st Street: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. all week;
accepts all major credit cards.
Original Print Headline: 25 Years On The Gravy Train
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463
Tim's T-bone steak is a whopping 18 ounces, and it's specially priced every Tuesday and Saturday. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
One doesn't find big ol' chicken livers like these much anymore. They are a staple at Bros. Houligan. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
Bros. Houligan has occupied its spot on 15th Street for 25 years. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World