Showing posts with label Chain restaurants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chain restaurants. Show all posts

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Eating the Chains

Applebee’s? Chili’s? Cracker Barrel? Personally I’m not overtly drawn to any of the ubiquitous ‘casual dining’ restaurant chains.
The trusted legions of corporate eateries across the land certainly corner an array of markets for various cravings and their convenience is always the bottom line.

Given my choice, I’d likely pick Olive Garden or Red Lobster. Both brands have stood the test of time and hold a fairly decent track record for quality and value. Both, in fact, were owned by the same parent corporation until Red Lobster had been recently sold by Darden Restaurants, Inc., a Fortune 500 company that also runs Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze and others.

Both Olive Garden and Red Lobster boast considerable menus, sociable bar areas and a combined 1,649 global locations. Both are also appreciated for trademark signature garnish items. Olive Garden’s buttery garlic breadsticks and Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits usually tempt customers more than the hearty entrees on their menus.

I always enjoyed the buffet-style restaurants that are popular in the mid-west and southern states. California-based Sizzler has long specialized in steak, seafood and salad bars— that is, until Covid restrictions recently caused them to file for Chapter 11. I suppose their future now remains on the back burner.

I recall another ‘all-you-can-eat’ establishment called Big Wrangler that seemed rather outstanding. Another home-style buffet chain was the Texas-based Bonanza, which can also go by the name Ponderosa. If that seems slightly familiar, it’s because it was originally begun in 1963 by Dan Blocker who played Hoss on NBC’s Bonanza from 1959-1972. Blocker sold his ownership of the chain three years later.

My least favorite of the lot is probably TGI Fridays, which was founded in New York in the 1960s and now headquartered in Dallas,Texas. My mainly esoteric issue stems primarily from a dining experience in which I had ordered only an appetizer but, from what I remember, it wasn’t prepared properly. 

As my service was equally bad, I wasn’t able to complain before leaving but I later emailed the general manager on the restaurant’s website. Since their official response to my polite inquiry was basically ‘Too bad, buddy,’ 
I wondered why they chose to respond at all. Wouldn’t remedying a tiny problem of one customer be worth it to prevent the guy from never returning to their restaurant as well as bad-mouthing it to everyone he knows? That's okay, I suppose. It’s not like he’d ever gripe about the incident to the entire world in a blog one day, right?

While thinking back on Fridays experiences, I actually recall another occasion that should conversely give me reason to look upon them with favor. One evening, on a rare occasion, a friend and I had spent a few hours at a table and ordered appetizers, entrees, and a few rounds of beer. With tax and tip, our total bill between us must have come close to about $100 (Well, for us it was a lot, anyway). Nice thing was, we never had to fork anything over. It was a mysterious undisclosed circumstance that forced the manager to ‘comp’ our bill and rush us out of the building, despite our offer to pay. Confused, we walked out to the parking lot, among the vacated clientele and staff. My quip?

“Glad I called in that bomb threat.”

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Christopher Robinson