I think the quality and presentation is all you need to make your decision on chains. (And if all you want to do is stuff a chunk of whatever in your face, ignore my post here).
Yes, I hate them now, and have for several years now. Main reason, as you mentioned is them destroying the Mom and Pop shops. They can afford to be in the red, having rest of the chain support them. While the couple trying to make an honest living get bumped out of business. I admit, I do stop in the drive thru, Arbys being about the only one anymore. Oh, and the chains that used to be fast for drive thru (and walk in for that matter) have totally forgot what fast food is… Sitting in a line for 10 minutes to get a 99 cent burger? I dont think so. I’ll spend the extra few bucks to get a sandwich with bread thats made fresh, and cooked to MY order. Well worth my wait.
Now that we have the separate chain threads, I rarely post or reply to those threads.
What pisses me off are people who "personally" take offense to my slamming of chains, see it as an insult to "them" and then they slam me in return. In fact others on this forum have replied to those people and have said "wait a minute, he’s not insulting you, why are you getting so upset"
I know many will disagree with me but I don’t like chains because
A- They put the local restaurants out of business. Just ask many of the former restaurant owners of the eatieries in the past Roadfood books. I spoke to a few of them and there response was that they could no longer compete with the new strip mall down the road or the new series of chains off the interstate. The food quality never changed, but I guess chains through advertising make people think that "they’re like everyone else now that an Applebees is in town"
B- The Food Sucks. Perfect example, on my business trip to Austin last September I went to mostly local restaurants and a local chain where the food quality ranged from average to outstanding. I went to two chains (not by choice) Dave and Busters and Hard Rock Cafe and one chain came to me (the bigwigs ordered pizza) from Papa Gatti’s. The food sucked. Period. I can compare the quality to eating a nuke’d stouffers lean cuisine
C- They have destroyed the regional individualism and uniqueness of our country. Kansas City Fried Chicken houses have been replaced by Applebees, NY Kosher Delis are being replaced by Subway, BBQ pits in Tennessee are being replaced by Sonic. I could go on but you get the picture. Some may say that these regional restaurants are a thing of the past and that the new regional cuisine are the pho parlors in Minneapolis and the Burrito Wagons in Charlotte- wrong! Pho parlors have been around a long time in San Franciso and Seattle and The Burrito Wagons have always been there in Santa Fe and San Antonio.
I’ll take a Lutheran Church Basement Scandinavian Dinner in Minneapolis and a Meat and Three in Charlotte anyday- now that’s the way it should be!
If you are what you eat, then, I’m fast, cheap and easy!
McD’s to Sears and Home Depot, chains are a fact of life in this day and age. I enjoy nonchain eateries but the fact is they are far outnumbered and it’s easy to stop at Sonny’s for a take out of pulled pork when leaving HD or Sonic’s when leaving the OTHER nearby HD. And sometimes there’s just a craving for a sackfull of Krystal sliders.
Personally I think the biggest chainophobs are actually closet chain bingers but thats just MHO…
The invective stems from the belief that chains drive independents out of business. Too often it’s true. I’ve seen it happen any number of times. Unfortunately, a Subway opened up next to my favorite little mom/pop sandwich place in a strip mall near my AZ home and "poof", the mom/pop joint folded even though they made great Chicago-style (complete with flourescent green relish) hot dogs.
Nevertheless, you will generally not find me among those making snarky remarks in any thread about chains because, in the absence of other choices (too often the case, especially in smaller communities), I admit I often patronize them. Sometimes I even patronize them because I enjoy their "formula". Like I said recently in another thread, I love Arby’s sandwiches–I just don’t think of them as "roast beef". I think of them as bland mystery meat that makes a good foundation for buckets of Arby’s and "Horsey" sauce.
I do, however, especially resent chains that are unrestrained in their attack on the independents. For example, Starbucks and Subway, in their relentless attempt to put up a franchise on every developed block in America, not uncommonly plop themselves down directly next to (or across the street from) an independent selling, respectively, coffee or sandwiches. That, I find offensive and unnecessary.
I agree that the infective aimed at chains on this site borders on ridiculous. And what really makes me perplexed is the most vehement chain-haters always post on the threads about chains! Somewhat counter-intuitive, but I guess they have a lot of free time on their hands.
Here in Columbia, the land of big-box stores and numerous chain restaurants, there’s a real dearth of good mom and pop places. (I’ve lamented about this on other threads so I won’t belabor the point here.) And, between having kids, and a real lack of time to search out far-flung alternatives, we end up eating at franchise restaurants more often than I’d like. But, really…the service is usually excellent, the stores are clean — cleaner than most privately owned restaurants I’ve been in — and although the selections may be mediocre, there is something for everyone. I just can’t bring myself to get worked up about this. There are so many other things that get me pi$$ed off that I can’t waste my time worrying about — gasp! — franchises!
It seems that the logical solution would be for those who hate the idea of franchising and having more than one restaurant with the same name (the horror!) should stick with the appropriate threads. But whatever…I’ve got bigger things to worry about! [;)]
I understand that this site is for finding those unique restaurants that don’t get heralded as much as a big conglomerate of restaurants, probably because advertising isn’t in the budget, and the local eateries get most of its recommendations by word of mouth, or from a nod in the Stern’s book.
But, lately, I’m really confused why some people hate ALL chains? Or even the philosophy of a chain.
I’ve made it clear that I’m no fan of Arby’s and Waffle House, but why are all chains getting slammed?
Some chains, do a lot of good in their communities and do lots to help local groups, and promote and sponsor local events. For example, some chain restaurants sponsor baseball and softball teams, support the Lions and Rotary clubs, support the local school, allow non-profits to hold monthy meetings at a table free of charge, etc.
Do those who simply hate all chains also hate chain grocery stores, like a Wegman’s or Publix? Do they only go to the mom and pop grocers where the can of soup is 50% more than the cost of the same soup at said chain grocer? Do all independent restaurants, grocers and assorted businesses give scholarships to their employees for college or business school?
The Stern’s themselves have reviewed many chain restaurants as a roadfood spot, some are here on this site. Should those places be subject to extreme criticism simply because they are part of a larger chain?
I was under the assumption that most chains are franchises, therefore, many of those establishments are owned locally.
I buy my camping gear at Walmart. They sell Coleman and other nationally known outdoor products. The guy at one Walmart in particular, who sells the fire arms, has been incredibly helpful to me to pick the right equipment for my needs. And he didn’t always suggest the most expensive item. I never bought a gun either.
Are all workers there that knowledgable? No. Are all Wal-marts full of experts? No. But then neither are all local places. For example, in DC, there are two locally owned hardware stores that have been around forever that I have frequented. One in Dupont Circle (I won’t print name), and Fragger’s on Cap Hill. While the Fragger’s employees are always excellent and helpful no matter what I need, the one near Dupont Circle was not overly helpful on my last two visits.
I think you see where I’m at and going with this one.
Why the chainophobia?
that’s definately ironic. One of my favorite reasons to visit Ithaca (aside from The Chapter house) is to go to all the independent restaurants (and hit a few wineries).
BTW, over memorial day I had my first Ithaca Beer Company beer (the Pale Ale). I liked it a lot.
Pat T Hat
I’ll do chains in a pinch. Especially when I’m traveling and have to eat something and can’t find anything else due to a time constraint. But for me it’s simple. I try not to do business with any place (food or otherwise) thats on the stock exchange. That’s a tall order and impossible these day’s. It’s down right impractical but then again so am I. Getting more so everyday(the tall order thing not me…well). If that makes me un-American so be it. I’ll spend my dough with mom and pop every chance I get. I don’t like what big business is doing to this country or for that matter the world. Unrealistic and naive, maybe, but I’m happy and content. Plus with the advertising gullibility that’s out there they don’t need me or my money. MA and PA down the road(food) sure do and that is my America! Food is a brutal business and the big boy’s in any business play rough no matter how many cute and fuzzy critters or cartoons sell their stuff. In addition Ma Kettle most likely cares more about what goes in front of me (and in me) than Johnny Bad Tattoo does while he’s trying to make time with Suzy Text Message. This is not a knock on tat’s by the way, just bad ones guy’s named Johnny may have. It is however a knock on text messaging and one gal named Suzy I know. While it is true I’m not alway’s satisfied with diners, joints, grills, vendors, and tiny places off the beaten path. It’s almost alway’s an adventure to find them. Most folks that do this, do it because they love it(or because they got stuck with it in the will and don’t know how to do anything else)not for money. Yeah, yeah there are some that do, but trust me, the money takes time and it hard to get there. Now introduce me to the guy who woke up one day and said "I don’t care how much I make. I really want to make the same food day in and day out everyday with no creative input or say so just like all the other guy’s (or gal’s) who woke up one day and said…Well you get the picture. Introduce me to that guy (or gal) and I’ll change my name to Johnny and get a new tattoo, just leave Suzy out of it [;)][8D]!
It is amazing how tastes can change, and perceptions too. My hometown, Ithaca, New York, for years never had any of these fast casual chains (and still lacks many of them). Fast food places like McDonald’s and Burger King, yes, but none of the others. Ithaca has long had a tradition of small independent, good quality restaurants (some have been reviewed here on Roadfood), and given the size of the population, many chains were reluctant to move in.
You would not believe, however, the constant complaining from large numbers of people who would bemoan the fact that they would have to drive to other cities to eat at Red Lobster, Chilli’s, etc. The excitement when Applebee’s finally came to town not long ago was palpable…and it is still packed. There is a Chilli’s there now, too, but still no Red Lobster, much to the chagrin of many!
So, even in an allegedly upscale, "gourmet" type of city, the pull of the chains is still incredible.
actually, Tedbear, to continue flogging the dead horse, the staple items are exactly what’s DIFFERENT at each grocery store. Convenience items are generally the same, just different types of the same Chi-Chi’s salsa or kleenex tissues for example. The veggies, fruits, meats, poultry, fish, dairy and other raw ingredients is precisely what’s different about grocery stores. Wegman’s is a good example of that. Come East, go to a Wegman’s and you’ll see a HUGE difference between these items and the same items at Giant or Food Lion.
The mom and pop grocery store I grew up on, had the best butcher and baker in the area. And the seafood was tops too. As an example, they had lobsters brought in fresh everyday on trucks from Maine and Massachusettes in the summer. No frozen lobsters for us! And not every grocery store could say that. That’s the difference I miss.
I wonder if some negative responses to chains are a knee jerk reaction. I have read some posts where they state that they liked a place and didn’t know it was a chain until someone else posted that it was a franchise or corporate establishment. Don’t knock a place until you try it. I try to visit independent restaurants but I don’t bash a chain unless I’ve been there and didn’t like it.
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