Chows and Chains
I assume even most CHers find themselves in chains or fast food joints, but where do we draw the line. Obviously, we can't all afford fine dining weekly, but I would flip this comment and say a true Hound would not be caught dead once a week in a chain or fast food joint.
Obviously this is a rough estimate, but I started thinking about the past year and here's what I came up with. Place and # of times
Burger King - 5
McDonald's - 1
Wendy's - 1
Pizza Hut - 1 (and never again)
TGIF - 1
Five Guys - 1 (probably never again)
KFC - 5
Taco Bell - 1
Nathan's - 1
Buffalo Wild Wings - 1
Friendy's - 2
Johnny Rockets - 1 (never ever again)
That's it. For food, only about 20 meals in a year. I can also say that of those visits, only two have been in 2012. Been trying to avoid them completely. So how often do other hounds find themselves succumbing to the demons of fast food and chains?
I think I’m in the middle somewhere. I probably eat in chains more often than most CH’ers, but WAY less than most Americans. I’d say once a week is probably the average, although it’s not evenly distributed: I haven’t been to a chain in at least 2 weeks, but a few weeks ago when traveling I went to 3 or 4 in a weekend. When I do go to a chain, it’s typically fast food, because I’m in a hurry and/or want a drive-through.
Subway - 3-4x a month (we have one at work)
Sonic, Starbucks, Tim Horton’s - 3-4 times a month (combined) for drinks; rarely eat at any of them
Jersey Mike’s – 1-2x a month
McDonald's - once a month, usually breakfast
Wendy's - once a month
Max and Erma’s, Taco Bell, Steak and Shake– 3-4x a year
Burger King, Raising Cane’s, White Castle, Culvers, Ruby Tuesday’s, Cracker Barrel – 2-3x a year
Olive Garden, Applebee’s, TGI Fridays, Red Lobster – once a year, if that
Chain restaurants are more prevalent than we realize and some of us have extremely limited options in general. Where I live, there are only TWO restaurants that are not nationwide chains. Yes, I said it right.....TWO. One is a bit expensive to eat at regularly while the other is a greasy spoon/working man's lunch place and not open for dinner during the week.
Aside from traveling, I try to stay away from the fast food chains. Fortunately, I don't do much traveling any more. Not traveling, I've eaten 5 meals over the past 12 months at fast food chains. Dinner options here are limited so we're stuck with Outback and I'd say maybe 4 times in the past 12 months.
I cook and can make pretty much anything better myself.
We just returned from a three-week road trip to the midwest/upper Plains/Utah. And we were hard pressed to find anything that was NOT a chain. We did have to stick to the Interstates, which makes finding local food more difficult, but I was really dismayed by the lack of choice.
At home, we will do a national or regional chain a couple of times a month. We are lucky to still have some great local spots [suburban LA - not LA proper.]
The best local eats we experienced were in Northern Utah. !
No fast food in years, zippo on that one. I have eaten at Chipotle and Jimmy John's several times in the last few years, but I think those are 'fast casual' not traditional fast food. I have eaten in table-service/sit-down chains many times, as they are often all there is to eat by us. Last night we got takeout from Longhorn.
We are very fortunate to live in an area with lots of locally owned places!
I doubt I can come up with any kind of realistic count of how many times this past year I ate at a chain... but I can tell you which chains I will choose over others...
Chik fil a