"Sell the sizzle" or "I ate there as a kid."
Several folks on another thread have been commenting on the passing of a Nathan's hot dog restaurant in Yonkers, NY, and the posters seem to fall into 2 camps: 1. Its just the hot dogs and fries that matter and 2. Its the memories, the community history, that was just as important. I was in the latter group, and got to thinking it might make an interesting thread in itself:
What are the non-food aspects of a restaurant or fast-food location that can be important?
I started a list, and challenge others to add to the list.
1. The view from the restaurant
2. The decor
3. Friendly staff or "I know everybody that works there"
4. "Its close to the office."
5. I went there as a kid/ I played there as a kid/ we always hung out in the parking lot...
6. "I don't know. Its just where my crowd goes at 7:30."
7. "I asked my wife to marry me in the booth over in the corner. It our place, if you know what I mean."
8. "It wouldn't be football season if I didn't go with the guys to [- - -] to watch the game."
9. Famous people have eaten there.
An old advertising training slogan is "sell the sizzle, not the steak." Madison Avenue knows there is a lot going on in addition to the product, in this case, more going on than the food or the meal.
What would your "sizzle" list consist of?
There is a lot of appeal to a restaurant I went to as a child that I still enjoy ... the problem with nostalgia is the rate at which restaurants close. I suppose if you're going to form a deliberate sentimental attachment, you'd better choose your restaurant carefully ...
My most frequent sizzle list -
If I'm on vacation - then the view/location is a major factor. An average serving of french fries eaten right on the beach with my feet in the sand can be a real luxury.
As an expat, the sizzle of "tastes like home" is a big draw for me. There's a place that serves fairly overpriced "American" Chinese food, but it hits so many 'tastes like Chinese food from my childhood' notes - that I am a regular.
Being in Jerusalem the lure of "do they serve pork/bacon" can make up for a multitude of other restaurant sins.
Unfortunately, I feel like the "sizzle" I encounter the most is "close to work" or "convenient delivery from work". There is a Palestinian-Mexican place really close to where I work that I wish was better or at least interesting, because so much of the offerings are the same. But food situation is what it is. Not so much a food desert, but a major case of menu fatigue.
For me the food has to be special. Not what I can make on the boat.
Minorcan chowder, pho, and a variety of long cooked stews and Ques come to mind.
To be recognised if I have been at least 3 times in 3 months. Not necessarily by name.
Cuisine I am not familiar with. That is basically all of Asia.
Clean dining room. Dinner ware and glass ware removed as appropriate.
A chef that stays in the kitchen and the kitchen is not part of the dining experience. There is a reason why it is called the back of the house.