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Jul 13, 1999 01:09 PM

Chain restaurants

  • t

You're not going to believe this, but somebody has
actually come out with a book that lists where chain
restaurants are located all across the country for
travellers who are stupid enough to want to stick with
what they are familiar with rather than branching out
and trying to local cuisines, hotspots, etc...

The website for the book -- --
says that the inspiration came when the authors tried
to find a TGI Friday's (or something) in Santa Fe and
were horrified when they couldn't find one!!!!! I
don't mean to judge -- but i have can one be
in Santa Fe and want to go to Friday's rather than go
to a little taqueria or a southwestern restaurant
with marvelous REAL margaritas or ANYTHING OTHER THAN

I figure that my fellow chowhounders will be as
disgusted as i am that there is enough of a market in
this country for such a book that they even have their
own website.


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  1. just another indication of how far
    we've sunk...

    one of my rules for restaurants is
    to never eat at a restaurant that
    advertises on television.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jim Dixon

      I've found some undeniably great restaurants on television. Of course, the ads have happened to be on shows like Armenian Teletime, NHK News or Cambodia Today. Still, perhaps your rule should be amended.

      1. re: j gold

        okay...we choose not to have cable (4 teen-aged boys
        glued to MTV, or my wife and I up late watching old
        movies....not a pretty picture), so I'll go along with
        the amendment


      2. re: Jim Dixon
        Rachel Perlow

        I agree about restaurants that advertise on "regular"
        television. But, with the expansion of cable and
        local channels, a lot of restaurants in my area have
        started advertising on cable, some of which I'd
        patronized before ever seeing an ad. They find it a
        more cost effective approach than mass mailing or
        newspaper ads. One restaurant even has a short recipe
        section with the chef (like a mini food show). I also
        find it "neat" to see an ad with someone I know.
        There's a wonderful Italian place we love, where we
        usually talk to the owner when we go, and in the
        commercial he's inviting you to to the restaurant (ala
        Tom Carvel), quite cute!

      3. You've got it all wrong, man. You got to get optimism
        and religion in your life.

        THANK GOD for chain restaurants. Otherwise, all those
        ignoramuses would be at the good restaurants with us.

        THANK GOD those authors and their readers will now
        always be able to find a Friday's, Bennigan's or Chi-
        Chi's so we'll never ever have to deal with them.

        I'll THANK GOD if just one chef is spared the agony of
        having just one of these morons send back the steak
        tartare because it's raw and has no tartar sauce.

        Do you see the light now? The lord works in mysterious

        5 Replies
        1. re: PastryChef

          Hey! Pastrychef's back! All right!

          1. re: PastryChef
            Josh Mittleman

            Tain't true. Before there were chain restaurants,
            there were still good restaurants and bad ones,
            high-class ones and low-class ones, expensive ones and
            cheap ones. The chains co-opted much of the low-end
            market and made it more homogeneous, more reliable,
            cheaper, but considerably less interesting. And some
            of them, like Ruth's Chris, are attempting the same
            feat in the high end.

            1. re: Josh Mittleman

              Yeah, good point, Josh. Although it's a bit harder to
              see in big cities like New York, there was a much wider
              spectrum of colorful inexpensive eats out there before
              the chains moved in and squeezed out most of the
              diners, the coffeeshops, the grandma kitchens.

              There'll always be Daniel, but it's cursedly difficult
              to find good corned beef hash....and this is why.


              1. re: Jim Leff

                Well, guys, your posts certainly gave me a moment's
                pause. But I'm not sure there are any statistics to
                back that theory up. My understanding, based very
                loosely on what I learned in a couple of restaurant-
                oriented business classes, is that the chains have
                expanded primarily because people are dining out in
                historically unprecedented numbers and not necessarily
                because they're rejecting the mom-and-pop businesses.
                I remember seeing something to the effect that there
                are more restaurants of every type now than ever
                before, even mom-and-pop places. Certainly, there are
                more ethnic restaurants than ever before, especially
                outside New York (and other big cities), in the parts
                of the country where there used to be none and now
                there are plenty. But I'd welcome hard data from
                anybody who has any (or, unlike me, isn't too lazy to
                look some up on the net).

                1. re: PastryChef

                  This sure isn't hard data, but I'd say in Middle
                  America (such as my hometown Columbus Ohio) the mid-
                  low priced restaurants increasingly and overwhelmingly
                  either chains or ethnic, mostly pizza and Chinese. No
                  one could claim that the quality of these last are
                  high - how could they be, without a discerning
                  The chaining trend has to impact the availability of
                  traditional, "home-cooked" style food, since no real
                  "cooking" takes place in most chain outlets. Where are
                  people, who increasingly don't cook at home either,
                  going to learn about the pleasures of carefully
                  prepared simple food? And what will happen to our
                  regional cuisines, when its just easier to pick Arthur
                  Treacher's, ChiChis or McDs than to try the local
                  seafood, mexican or breakfast places?
                  Industrial food uniformity will ultimately harm the
                  development of taste itself - a capacity that is
                  available to every person, not just an elite. A piece
                  of pie, a bowl of soup or a burger in a coffee shop
                  could be wonderful or terrible, or anywhere in
                  between, and the preparation and ingredients may vary
                  widely. If I buy the same thing in a fast food place,
                  it will be the same every single time; it may not be
                  terrible, but it will never be wonderful or
                  interesting. Without those distinctions and
                  variations of quality and flavor, there just isn't a
                  basis for taste to develop, and I have to see this as
                  a major loss.