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Posted by Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on Sunday, September 30, 2012 7:39 AM

Doe SteakJane and Michael Stern talk about what happens when Roadfood favorites begin cloning themselves into mini-chains, during their visit this weekend on The Splendid Table. While it would be possible to kick and moan over the trend, they chose to focus on the successes, discussing the expansions of Pepe's Pizzeria (see the review of the New Haven, CT original), Doe's Eat Place (see the review of the Greenville, MS original), and Five Guys.  The Sterns hypothesize on what makes these three in particular work so well.  You can hear the show on your local public radio station. The Sterns' discussion with host Lynne Rossetto Kasper is also available online, as is Lynne's whole show.



The McDonald brothers and the Colonel started out with one "stand" and probably would have been called Roadfood back in the day. Howard Johnson had a shack at the shore. And there is good reason for chains. Most "roadfood" places are terrible. Traveling cross-country before chains proliferated (and the Sterns first published) you never knew what you were getting and were likely to end up in some horrible greasy spoons and ptomaine palaces on the road. People welcomed HoJo's on the turnpikes and then places like MickeyD's. Whatever short-comings they had/have, they were/are consistent and predictable. The meal won't be memorable - either good or bad. I appreciate the Stern's doing all the research for me and I look for a Roadfood spot when I can. But there's not always one at the next town or next exit. Then, thank god for chains.
Posted by michaelcarraher on Monday, Oct 1, 2012 10:21 AM

I understand that Taco Taco in San Antonio is trying to franchise.I live here and haven't eaten there yet.Some of these places start out locally, then expand.Taco Caban was just in town, but has expanded since when it was founded. The problem is, sometimes that is or isn't a good thing. The food and customer service,especially the food has to stay true to the original, or it's just another chain joint.
Posted by HollyDolly on Monday, Oct 1, 2012 12:01 PM

I am less enamored of Five Guys than some people. Perhaps it's their refusal to cook burgers rare.
Posted by Phildelmar on Monday, Oct 1, 2012 4:59 PM

Five Guys has several locations in the Portland area including one a mile from my whorl . i rather like them and the free peanuts are a great gimmick.
Posted by mr chips on Friday, Oct 5, 2012 12:29 AM

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