What happened to good and inexpensive restaurant food?

posted by Jeff | Saturday, March 14, 2009, 1:10 PM | comments: 3

When I think back to 1999 or so, I recall that Stephanie and I used to go to TGI Friday's pretty much once a week (before she went veggie). The menu was filled with pretty good stuff for the most part, and it was usually reasonable. But in the last few months, Diana and I have made several attempts at it, and it's all crappy microwaved and deep fried shit. It really sucks.

A lot of restaurants got that way. Maybe Applebees was always like that. Hell, there are a lot of chains that have sucked and disappeared in their entirety. Restaurants have a high failure rate, but why is it so hard to get it right?

Last night we went to the Winking Lizard, and it was packed. We go at least once a week. The food is solid and inexpensive. It's actually cooked, not microwaved. You can get baked potatoes. The menu is reasonably diverse, the beer line up is amazing and they have good desserts (if you can find room). This is a relatively local chain, but they recently expanded into Columbus as well.

The one here in town opened about a year ago, and several restaurants around town have come and gone since. It's not a complicated formula. Make good food, offer good service, make it nice enough to be reasonably comfortable. I wish there were more places like that.


CPLady, March 15, 2009, 2:18 PM #

Max & Erma's hasn't gone totally fried and it's about the only reasonably priced chain I go to anymore, although even they can vary from location to location. I took Ian to the one in Canton and he had to send his order back three times because it wasn't cooked. Yet the one in Westland always has excellent food and service. When you get to the more widespread chains, it seems it depends upon the management of the place.

Otherwise Gordon and I stick to local independents or local chains when we go out, (which I admit is rarely these days). I think the local places have much more to lose and they try harder to please their customers.

Diana, March 15, 2009, 6:50 PM #

I think Linda hit the nail on the head - that the local guy has more to lose if the restaurant fails and will try harder. Case in point: Melt.

Rob, March 16, 2009, 1:23 PM #

Yep, we stick with Michelle's Cafe and Scoreboards here at home. It's cheap but good food. The only time we go out to eat elsewhere is if we have a gift card.

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