Friday, October 21, 2011

929 Greasy Spoon vs. Plastic Spoon

929 Greasy Spoon vs. Plastic Spoon

You walk into an Applebee’s or a TGI Friday or any of that kind of place and you don’t know which one you’re in.  Regardless of theme, they’re all pretty much the same.  Booths, tables, oddball solid objects stuck on the wall interspersed with pictures of dead movie stars or baseball players.

The menus are pretty much the same:  mediocre food that’s both overcooked and overpriced.  The wait staff is pretty much the same, generic college kids.

So is it any surprise that joints like these are going or gone bankrupt left and right?

The website 24/7 Wall Street had a list of them.  Bennigan’s, Ground Round, Bakers Square, Damon’s, Don Pablo’s, Gloria Jean’s, Big Boy, Tony Roma’s, Country Kitchen, Black Angus. All have sales down 60% or more compared with last year.

And it’s no wonder.   But it’s not just the recession and everyone cutting discretionary budgets.

To paraphrase Bill Clinton:  It’s the food, stupid.

You want to spend ten bucks for a burger and fries?  Go to McDonalds.  Bring your own vodka concealed in a water bottle.  Add it to your coke.  Leave with change, not to mention a better burger that doesn’t resemble and/or taste like a hockey puck right when it comes off the grill.

You can “cook” a decent frozen chicken with fettuccine Alfredo in your microwave for a third of the price you’d pay at any of these places.

They’re not greasy spoons.  Greasy spoons still abound, most of them local. Their food often is unhealthy, but it generally tastes okay.  The chain restaurants aren’t really plastic spoons either because the flatware is metal.   It’s the food itself that’s plastic.

And they’re using cheaper plastic for the food than they used to.  Had a Ruby Tuesday burger lately?  They once were pretty good.  Now, not so much.

In any of these places today, you’re paying to see a steamer trunk and a logger’s saw and a clarinet pasted to the wall or a picture of Errol Flynn or Babe Ruth.  Keeps your mind off the taste(less) and your eyes off the dirty carpet.


Shrapnel:

--Ever try “Godfather’s?”  It’s the closest you can get to bad pizza, all of which is at least acceptable.  Thanks, President Cain, for outdoing Domino, Pizza Hut, Papa John and English Muffins with Ketchup cooked in an Easy Bake toy oven for worst pizza in America.

--Inner City Broadcasting is in bankruptcy and founder Percy Sutton must be rolling in his grave and wondering about the competence of his son and heir, Pierre.  A friend asks if the checks are bouncing.  Probably not... yet.

--This kind of thing is becoming far too frequent:  Condolences to the family of Rich Koziol, a fine man, a fine engineer and a wonderful colleague.  Rich was 64.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011

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