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Nov 17, 2003 08:00 AM

K&W Cafeteria

  • d

I was finally prevailed upon to try K&W Cafeteria, a institution in Chapel Hill and apparently across the South these days. Let me say I thought it was one of the worst meals of my life: heat-lamp-dried cafeteria food at its worst, reminiscent of public school lunch. What alarms me and saddens me is that the place is so popular. Time was that lower-income people had their bakeries, their butchers, their local BBQ shack or fish house or deli or pizza joint or diner, and they probably did pretty well for themselves. Now they gravitate to places like K&W, which are peddling nothing more than large quantities of cheap fat. Is there a problem here? Is there a solution to the problem? I don't know.

David A.

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  1. People have different tastes in food and different reasons for eating. A friend of my wife said some chicken "helper" product was really good, so my wife bought a box. That was the most gawd awful thing I have ever tasted, but the friend really likes it. I think some people view food as something you gotta do a couple of times a day and quick and easy is most important to them. It probably doesn't bother them to buy fish at Food Lion. Others get great enjoyment out of food and seek out places that sell high quality products.

    The best chance of getting food that hasn't been dried out by the heat lamps at cafeterias or buffets is to go when they first open or when there is a long line. Going early would probably be the best advice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bob

      May I beg to differ, K&W is certainly not gourmet but not in the class with buffets esp. Golden Corral where all food tastes the same...bad. Where else can you have fresh fruit salad, veggie plate and then the fantastic german chocolate pie. The sweet tea is just right. The price fantastic. Try the K&S in Cary, I bet you have a better experience. Some days you want just plain food. Beans greens and cornbread.


      I know these reports are naturally inclined to the sensational, but this falls in line with the all-you-can-eat buffet problem. This country has little sense of quality food, or the poignancy of sharing a meal with friends and loved ones. The obesity problem is one more example of the American culture of greed, and the giant sized portions of food fit right in with that. At my last job I overheard two women talking about taking their kids to eat at Golden Corral around 10 in the morning, so they can eat breakfast, then stall for an hour, and eat lunch on the same tab.

      Food in America is so cheap, and it's also poorly produced in mass quantities.

      My personal suggestion would be to avoid buffets and fast food joints. Works for me :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: heids

        That story reminds me of the time I was in a pizza chain restaurant during the lunch buffet and saw two grown women with a huge pile of pizza crusts in front of them. After watching them for a few minutes, I realized that they were doing was just eating the cheese and meat toppings and throwing away the crust. That was so offensive to me on so many levels... Grown women, probably in their 30's, not immature teenagers. Pure gluttony and wastefulness. Oh and this was say 8 or 10 years ago, before Atkins was all the rage, so no pass there!

      2. Years ago when I was a UNC medical student, a trip to K&W was a weekly treat, and a break from the macaroni and cheese/beenie-weenie which were the other staples of my diet ($5/day was my food budget). It seemed pretty good back then (mid 1980's), and was very popular. What do the rest of you starving UNC students think?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Dino

          Yup, did the starving grad student thing at K&W myself. If it has the word "cafeteria" in the title it's probably a safe bet that it's not gonna be gourmet food. It is what it is, a place to eat decent food fast and cheap.

        2. I usually use the 10% rule in most things and it applys here...the K&W is in the 10% of crap of the restaurant industry....but hey let those throngs of people have at their buffets and bring all their friends and kids...we dont need them at our favorite places now do we?

          1. I still like to visit cafeterias from time to time when visiting down south. For me, the draw is not the food but the warm remembrance of gathering with several generations of family after church on Sundays at the loacl S&S.

            There's a certain comfort in that food from my childhood experiences that leads me to step in the doors from time to time. It's probably the same reason that my heart sank when I learned that the local Chines American that I ate at as a kid had gone out of business.

            It wasn't the food that was important. Instead, it was the important developmental aspects of my life that had taken place around the tables of those places.