Yesterday the New York Times Diners Journal's daily "What We’re Reading" post (with which we are ridiculously obsessed and over which we weep when we [frequently] don't make the cut) pointed us to a 2009 (but new to us) video on Americans’ perceptions of the chain restaurant industry.
The National Retail Foundation and Shop.org partnered with ExpoTv.com to ask consumers to sum up what they like about national chains like T.G.I. Friday's, Chili's, Panera Bread and Cracker Barrel. Their overwhelmingly consistent response? Consistency - as manifested in atmosphere, service, menu items, pricing and even uniformity in food size.
We get it. We totally do. Sometimes we're out on the road, low blood sugared, beset with ennui - something's gone awry, and we just wanna get fed with no major surprises. There are even a few items (helloooooo Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit!) for which we beeline when we're in geographical range. But beyond that, in many ways consistency is rather the antithesis of what we're looking for when we spend our money to dine out. Yes, things should be consistently GOOD, but new choices, flavors, dishes, cuisines and ingredients - that's thoroughly linked to our love of the non-chain places.
Previously - Poll: Maintenance meals
I refuse to eat at most chains unless I am dragged there (and there are a few I will never eat at, even if dragged). Basically because the food is consistently BAD. I stopped allowing myself to be dragged to McDonalds over 20 years ago, well before I considered any health concerns, simply because I disliked everything on the menu.
The one exception to my rule is Panera's Bread, and now that I have discovered their hidden menu for later in the day, I'm glad to patronize them when in a rush to various places. (I also eat a few non-hidden items, and enjoy them.)
However for the sheer pleasure of dining out, and trying new foods as a part of the travel experience, home grown restaurants are my thing. Yes, certainly you will run into some real bad spots, but with a bit of intelligence and observation, you can find some truly pleasurable winners to dine ate.
As far as consistency goes, those much touted McD's french fries: Back in the day, I noticed grave inconsistencies between batches - some were soggy, some were hard as rocks (and none of them were anywhere near as good as a good honest and thick steak fry). From watching others eat them today, I don't see that that has changed over the years.
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I'm going to guess your location.
Nigeria. And you are a prince? Or related to one?
I chose OTHER as my reason because my choice to go to a chain restaurant has little to do with anything other than just to eat something different. I have picked up cooking as a hobby when I was 13 years old and have created my own master pieces in the comforts of my own home. I have also found that cooking healthy and on the gourmet level is actually quite simple if you just educate yourself. Often when I take my family out to eat the common remarks from my family are, "Dad, I like your version better." This not only re-enforces my love of cooking but also shows/educates my children on eating healthy at home. So choosing a chain restaurant for dinner is just something we do for fun!
Kilgore is the backup center (for now) of the San Francisco 49ers. You just learned something new today.
I don't usually go to chain restaurants except when I have my children with me. We find that chain restaurants are consistent enough that I KNOW I will find something for the picky kids to eat and I will find something to make me happy as well.
Reading about people who frequent chains makes me happy I had a dad who would laugh at me if I suggested we go to somewhere like the Olive Garden. I love that I grew up eating locally and eating well.
Generally I stay away from chains, but every now and then, I get a craving for a few of them (Chik-Fil-A, Panera Bread, and a few others, like Bonefish Grill –which doesn't seem like a chain). When dining out in my own city–which has a big selection of both chains and local places–I tend to frequent the small, local restaurants, even if I pay a bit more. Usually, the food is better and fresher, and I like the feeling of supporting a family business that's been around for years. But I do certainly understand the consistency of chain restaurants–especially if you have a picky child (or adult) who only eats certain things. Also, if I'm traveling, I'll stop at a chain–but that's usually on the actual drive/airport wait, not when I'm at the destination itself.
If I eat at a non locally based chain, it's for one reason... I need something fast, and I don't really care what it is. With the exception of Dairy Queen (I have a Blizzard sweet tooth), I just don't really like fast food or most chains. Local restaurants change their menus by the season (especially those that emphasize organic ingredients), so you're more likely to have a unique dining experience every time.
When my family travels we always end up eating at chains like Sonic, Steak & Shake, and Red Lobster. This is because we don't actually get those chains where we live (even though Red Lobster is advertised to us every 3 commercials). Personally, I'm not a huge fan of chains, and would rather try local food....But I'm only 1/4 the vote.
I stay away from the chains, there are too many local places with better food, better service, and better prices. In my experience, the local places are far more interested in doing their best to convince customers to return regularly. It's a no-brainer to patronize the local places rather than the chains.
Chains are designed solely for creatures of habit. Supporting local business is much better for you and your town. $0.55 of every dollar spent at a local business goes back into the local economy as opposed to $0.15 of every dollar at a corporate business. Restaurants are no exception to the rule. Buy local, eat local, and you'll end up ultimately helping yourself.
Ah, very good, thank you for the info.
I like your figures, but where did they come from?
I eat at chains for a change. We normally eat at our favorite places that are local and, more importantly, close to our house. Every now and then it's fun to just go in Chili's, or some place like that, and eat a bunch of fatty appetizers.
I like chain rest.but HONESTLY there just part of the countrys problem.country needs to start from scratch and learn whats its like not to be financially raped everytime you step outside your home.i thinkk we'll be just fine with out...ie.red freakin robin or chilis where A FREAKIN CUP OF COKE IS 2 BUCKS..ripoff
I like that most chains have nutritional information online. It's easier to eat well when you know how many calories and fats are going into your body.
I was about to make some snobby comment about not eating at chains but I realised that I eat out at chains more often than I think. I don't do places like Olive Garden, Red Lobster, TGIFriday's, etc, because I find the food to be barely one step above fast food restaurants. But I do eat at chains like P.F. Chang's, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and California Pizza Kitchen. I also admit to Chipotle and Chik Fil-a every few months.
Most of the time when I eat out, it's something local but every now and again I will go to a "high-end" chain or a mid-grade chain that hasn't been beat down on every corner. You find Applebee's and Chili's everywhere, but places like Fogo de Chao don't have that "neighbourhood" feel to it. I try to avoid that, at least.
"Senseless Scribbling of an Idiot" Very interesting. Is this for your personal whimsy?
Where did you get your name from?
Good point. There are some chains that provide excellent food. Compare Ruth's Chis to Aplebee's. Would anyone consider Lidia's a chain because she has a few eponymous restaurants? If so, then the bar set for chains must be raised considerably or divided up qualitatively
Chains are not always consistent – depends on where you live and the pool of employees available for hire. That goes for the managers as well as the lowly sandwich-makers!
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