In places like Daytona, that may be true, but in large cities it’s not always. Here, chains have a big advantage–they can usually afford higher rents (especially the corporate-owned stores). Thus, when a landlord wants to raise the rent, he can often jack up the rent at lease-renewal time and find a chain who will pay the higher rate. It happens all the time. Until last winter, there was an independent coffee place in my building. Now it’s a Peet’s. I’m grateful it’s not a Starbuck’s. But in this situation, customer loyalty has nothing to do with what can happen.
If the independents are good the locals will keep them in business. Daytona Beach is loaded with fast food & chain restaurants; there are still a lot of good independent places as well, large and small. IIRC the first "Chain" to standardize was Howard Johnson’s. They made all of their restaurants and motels the same so travelers would know what to expect upon arrival, no surprises. Twenty-five years ago there was a HoJo s motel & restaurant here, it s gone, many of the nearby M&P motels & eateries are still here.
So help me slap them down for doing that.
I ate at Cracker Barrel when it was 1 restaurant in Tennessee, and have since eaten at other many locations all over the country, some great, some OK, some terrible. Every chain started as one restaurant somewhere. And people liked it and the business grew to the point where more locations were needed. So we’ve got to chill out on bashing each other and just try to steer folks to the gems and away from the gravel.
thus sayeth the diva speaking from her comfy chair
Actually – and unfortunately – some of the most rabid chain-haters on here are known to go into the Fast Food Forum (I presume that’s what you are referring to) and post derogatory remarks therein. Simply to deride the existence of the posts, it appears. One would think they would avoid said forum, but at times it seems they are drawn like a moth to candle to incite conflict
and, $1.39 double cheeseburger? Humph, so much for the dollar menu. [8D]
They can and they should if they want to. There’s even now a place to do it and no one can say it’s out of order there. I wouldn’t even put McD’s out of bounds. Some of us find things to like there and McD’s especially is reported to be changing enough that more likeable things could be coming. In the past, I posted in praise of the McD’s $1 double cheeseburger (now $1.39 in SF–who says there’s no inflation?).
Personally, I’m for free speech. The only thing I would put out of bounds is personal attacks, egregious profanity or other offensiveness for no obvious good reason. But we have moderators to make these decisions and they have NEVER said that discussion of chains was verboten.
So I say, "Discuss away" and I promise to help defend you, though I may also disagree with your opinion, if you are attacked for doing it. I hope some more of you will promise, at least to yourself, to speak up in such a case as well.
I have a general rule of thumb when I eat out. If I can make the better dishes than a given restaurant, then I don’t bother eating there. I’m quite a good cook and I dine out for the whole experience- good food, good atmosphere, socializing etc. I find that chain restaurants, or at least those that I have been exposed to clearly miss the mark when it comes to what I am seeking. There are a lot of independant restaurants that do too.
The lack of imagination in a lot of the chain restaurants combined with overpriced menu items/poor food value leads me to steer away from them. I grocery shop at a mixture of chain and independant stores depending on my needs.
There are some chains that are decent- The Keg locally is good but if I were in another centre with better steakhouses, I wouldn’t eat at a Keg. I will drink in the bar at Earl’s but I find there food just ok and if you factor in the price, I’d expect better, so I never eat there.
I’d sooner buy seafood from a supermarket and prep it than eat at Red Lobster. Bisquick biscuits with cheddar mixed in, brushed with garlic butter suffice for their cheddar bay biscuits.
Life’s too short to eat bad food.
Quote from Scorereader: "The fact that you don’t see the problem of chain grocers taking over mom and pop or locally owned grocers, is because it’s not a concern of yours. But it’s a concern for some people."
I re-read my post, and I really can’t imagine how you formed this impression from what I wrote. In fact, I do see a problem for local economies everywhere when local businesses are driven out by chains (be it Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Burger King, etc.) even though I didn’t specifically say so. But then again, I also didn’t say that I don’t see a problem with local businesses being driven out by chain operations. I actually said nothing on that particular tangent of this topic.
What I stated (as Tricky did comprehend) was that most of the products sold at chain grocers are exactly the same as those sold by Mom & Pop’s little corner grocery store. The prices may be different (and the service is undoubtedly different), but the merchandise is the same. I don’t buy convenience foods, as they are a poor value, and the staple items that are available are identical from one store to another. That was my point in terms of differentiating from chain supermarkets and chain eating establishments.
If you feel that this philosophy is inconsistent, so be it. My point (just to beat a dead horse), is that people usually seek out independent eating establishments for the better quality that they usually offer. And, those who are interested in saving money on mass-marketed staple items will usually go to a chain food store, rather than the independent. This is just a matter of choosing what is in one’s own best interests in various purchasing situations, rather than setting up rigid personal rules of either steadfastly avoiding all chains or, conversely, patronizing only chain operations.
I like to be able to vary my spending decisions, based on what I am specifically seeking at that moment. My decision of where to eat or to shop is predicated on several factors, including perceived quality, value for my dollar, and also the known business practices of the particular merchant. Is that a bit more clear?
I don’t have time to pick apart another email, besides, you and I are agreeing on the chain restaurant thing, just from different angles.
Still though, no one has responded to the fact that the Sterns have reviewed chains. Which leads me to believe, they occasionally (maybe even rarely) eat at chains. But, it’s a relatively small percentage compared to the indie’s, so certainly less gabbing about chains is a good thing.
I beg to differ on my shopping experience that all grocery stores’ produce, meat, poultry, etc is the same. And that all chain grocers are better in those departments than an independent. And, the fact that there’s even a discussion about why people can loathe chains in one field but not in another is proof that some level of rationalization is going on. You can take it to the level of hardware stores, electronic stores, and other places, Where the chain has taken over the little man. The difference is, you and I grew up on the chain electronic store and the mom and pop restaurants. So when our mom and pop restaurants are threatened, we get frantic. I know I do. If Mother’s of Liverpool ever closed and a Romano’s Macaroni grill popped up, I’d have a conniption. I’m talking deep end, and I’m going over it.
And lastly, I’ve been around the country. For some places, the chain is all there is, because before that, there was farm land. And the independent places that are there, are not good. I mean, I’d like to say all mom and pop places are good, but this sadly isn’t true. So, sometimes the chains are it for heading out. I’ve been in towns where the "restaurants" were a Perkins and a Dairy Queen. They had it all, fast food AND sit down. Imagine THAT world!
Thanks for everyone’s ideas on the subject. And I’m glad we are talking about chains and no one is throwing insults. Makes me feel all warm inside [:D].
And hey, Tricky, it’s ok to be hypocritical when it comes to Wal-Mart and Target…heh, you should see what I’ve written about Waffle House. [;)] Yet, I’m a Five Guys believer!
Stephen Rushmore Jr.
But, that’s not my issue. My issue is with the quality of the food I can make. I rarely care about brand names. I rarely buy jarred salsa or prepared foods. I’ve got no beef with a big box grocery, because whatever I’m buying there is not manipulated. I don’t buy store made XYZ. I don’t buy pre-diced tomatoes. I buy ingredients and take them home and make food with them. So, I’ve got no beef with the grocery store. I get better quality (on produce, poultry, meat) at a big box store than I can at a family owned, so why wouldn’t I shop there? (I admit that I do like to support the little guy when possible, so if I’m buying pre-packaged stuff I’ll buy it from him even if it costs me a little more, but it’s not a disdain for the big box, it’s more the "liberal" cheer for the underdog part of me.) I don’t get better quality food at a chain restaurant, for the most part, so why would I eat at one?
I use coupons on the occasion that I buy something for which I have one, but I’d never, ever, go to another store because I couldn’t get the coupon brand at the store I happened to be shopping at. The sheer gas usage would eat up any savings.
I don’t really think it’s rationalization. It’s a matter of whether or not the food tastes better at a chain or not. In my experience it doesn’t, so I choose not to return. I don’t avoid chain restaurants as a matter of course, but if it’s up to me, I will generally choose the independent restaurant because in my experience, the food is better. It’s the same reason that I choose a chain grocery for some things. For anything prepackaged, it’s the same no matter where it comes from. For most other things, the quality is actually better at large grocery stores than at small Mom and Pops. (If you can find a real butcher shop, he’s definitely going to be better than a grocery store butcher case, but as you’ve pointed out, there aren’t many left.)
Most grocery stores do sell basically the same products.
I believe Ted was saying the same thing I’m saying. That IF he wants Oreos, it doesn’t matter where they come from. They’re Oreos. They require no manipulation.
But, when he wants to go have a hamburger, he doesn’t want McDonald’s because the product ordered is a pre-formed soy/beef patty thrown on a flat-top. He’d rather have a hamburger that is hand-formed from real beef and grilled. That requires manipulation – and doesn’t happen often in chain restaurants because the more an ingredient is manipulated the less likely there will be consitency across locations. So, while the two burgers ultimately came from the same "store" they aren’t the same product. Those two burgers are not like the oreos.
I do see the apples vs. oranges thing, and that was actually my point in my original post. My big issue is quality and if you’re buying Oreos they’re the same "quality" whether you buy them at a Mom and Pop grocery or at Wegman’s. Grocery stores don’t manipulate their products much, so chain or family-owned, the products aren’t a lot different. Consistency (of quality) is a non-issue. The quality of the product is going to be the same whereever it’s bought.
But in a restaurant, it is the main issue. If there’s one location, an owner doesn’t have near the worry about consistency and is completely comfortable buying all raw ingredients and manipulating them. But in a multi-location concept, an owner does have to worry about consistency. It’s his main concern. Then quality often ends up suffering.
If quality is your main reason to dislike chain restaurants, Ted’s "Apples vs. Oranges" absolutely applies.
His point of apples and oranges had to do with restaurants vs. grocery stores. Your point falls right in-line with my points. Choice of products. Not all grocery stores sell the same exact product.
The restaurant has a choice, the grocer has a choice. The customer has achoice.
Shoot, some Home Depots don’t sell the same crud. I had my floor picked out at one Home Depot but tried to buy it at the home depot closer to my house and it wasn’t sold there. It wan’t out of stock, they simply didn’t sell that particular floor. arrrggh! I was piping mad. (can you tell?)
I actually have to disagree with you here. While I do agree that many restaurants (Mom and Pop or chain) order from Sysco, it’s a matter of what they order. And then what they do with it. Sysco sells a lot of "buy it and drop it in the fryer" sort of foods, but they also sell meat, they sell produce, they sell seafood, they sell soda. They’re a full-line distributor. The quality of a lot of their "actually must be cooked" products is fine. But often chains order the "buy it and drop it in the fryer" foods rather than the "actually must be cooked" products. That’s consistency.
I appreciated the history lesson Mr. Chips, having been on for less than a year.
I agree that we don’t need to discuss places like McDonald’s, BK , et. al, but some chains are regional, so one may not know the merits or lack there of for places like DC’s Silver Diner. And the Sterns, who founded this whole thing, have several reviews of restaurants that are a part of a chain.
Tedbear, I wholeheartily disgree with your apples to oranges theory. Most restaurants on this coast all get their food from the same supplier: Sysco. And sundries products isn’t the only thing that a grocery store sells. They also have meat departments, seafood departments, delicatessens, etc. Jobs were lost when the butcher, fish market, deli, etc were combined in one store. The mom and pop store supplied personal service that large grocers didn’t do. The fact that you don’t see the problem of chain grocers taking over mom and pop or locally owned grocers, is because it’s not a concern of yours. But it’s a concern for some people.
You say: For bulk of my supermarket purchases, a chain has no downside that I can perceive, versus the Mom & Pop grocer. (Or conversely, the Mom & Pop place has no significant advantage that I can perceive.)
So, you’ve drawn a line. In this area chains are bad, and here chains are good. But that’s for you. That’s your mark in the sand. You point out the differences because those are the things you rely on to help you fell comfortable and at ease with your decision. But it’s not fact for everyone.
William’s grocery in North Syracuse NY was a mom and pop store. But it had the largest floor space of any grocery store for years. It had the best butcher, the best baker, the freshest seafood and fish. they knew you when you walked in, at the counters, and in the check out lines. You usually even knew the bagger. And their prices were always lower. But Williams is gone. I’m sure the family with disgree with your idea that it’s apples and oranges. Why did they fail after 70 years? Because they didn’t advertise as much as Wegman’s and P & C. They didn’t havethe money to advertise as much as the chain places, and they lost business. No matter that the deals and quality was better than the competitor.
Now, don’t get me wrong…I LOVE Wegman’s. They have changed quite a bit. Their philosophy is not the same. They’ve actually improved their products and services. Today, it’s a better grocer than back then. But they (along with P & C) did manage to kill off William’s and Sweetheart Grocery Store (which was across the street from Williams)
So, it’s really about where you draw your line. I know people who live in the Village of Liverpool (NY) who only shop at Nichol’s, because they don’t want to lose Nichol’s the same way Williams and Sweetheart fell. I’d like to know if those same people eat at chain restaurants, or just go to the independent restaurants in the same village. It would be an interesting statistic.
You can rationale your decision, and that’s fine, we all have to place our threshold somewhere, but it’s not apples to oranges for everybody.
And, I understand that we, on this board, are here to seek out local places that are unique and not replicated. That’s why I’m here. But if the Sterns can review an In-N-Out, Original Pancake House, Dairy Queen, Five Guys, and Steak-N-Shake AND Whole Food Markets why can’t others at least talk about it without molestation?
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