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3 hours ago, DaveO said:

In any case I'm appreciative that Sietsema went out and surveyed all of these places.  It will save me the effort and might keep me from ordering something horrible next time I'm at one of those restaurants.  BTW:  I've always liked patty melts but have had some lousy one's recently.  Maybe I'll have one at IHop per Sietsema's article.  Couldn't be more disappointing than some of those I've had elsewhere.

I got a patty melt at the Johnny Rockets in Brambleton a while back. It really sucked. In fact, the whole meal sucked. That is a bad Johnny Rockets. The patty melt I got at the Freddy's in Fairfax more recently was much better.

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One thought -- back in the day, families would stop at a national chain vs some local place because you knew what you'd be getting (see, e.g., Mad magazine's "Johnson Howard's" feature from 1966. Now, because you know what you'd be getting at a national chain, you can feel safe bypassing it in favor of the local places, which are now easy to find and take a chance on.

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18 hours ago, Bob Wells said:

I got a patty melt at the Johnny Rockets in Brambleton a while back. It really sucked. In fact, the whole meal sucked. That is a bad Johnny Rockets. The patty melt I got at the Freddy's in Fairfax more recently was much better.

I haven't been to a Johnny Rockets in ages.  Why?   Dan Snyderskin owned them.  Ultimately I stopped going to Skns game.  In the earlier 2000's it felt that as you approached the football stadium Snyder was already reaching into your pockets and sucking out your cash for an ever worsening experience.

Back to Johnny Rockets.  Didn't realize it till just now.  Snyderskin sold Johnny Rockets--in 2013.  How do ya like that?  On the one hand I feel like its okay to eat there again.  OTOH the patty melts suck.  Guess that means status quo going forward.  Thanks for the tip.

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34 minutes ago, Bob Wells said:

I got a patty melt at the Johnny Rockets in Brambleton a while back. It really sucked. In fact, the whole meal sucked. That is a bad Johnny Rockets. The patty melt I got at the Freddy's in Fairfax more recently was much better.

Johnny Rockets in Brambleton closed 2 weeks ago...apparently it was pretty bad.

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Just read the WaPo article. I am a little embarrassed to agree that since the chain stoped its discriminatory practices, Cracker Barrel is my go-to road-trippin' spot.

Here's what it's got going for it: clean bathrooms, veggies, kids menu, FRIED OCRA.

Here's what I hate about it: Mom, can I have this, can I have this, can I have this. and that slab 'o' meat that my husband orders...covered in white goo. 
 

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8 minutes ago, NolaCaine said:

Just read the WaPo article. I am a little embarrassed to agree that since the chain stoped its discriminatory practices, Cracker Barrel is my go-to road-trippin' spot.

Here's what it's got going for it: clean bathrooms, veggies, kids menu, FRIED OCRA.

Here's what I hate about it: Mom, can I have this, can I have this, can I have this. and that slab 'o' meat that my husband orders...covered in white goo. 

LOL your post reminds me of a long-gone chain (there are still a few left out west) called Black Eyed Pea, where my go-to meal was, yep, fried okra and chicken-fried steak (AKA slab o'meat covered in white goo).

CB does have pretty good food.

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9 minutes ago, NolaCaine said:

that slab 'o' meat that my husband orders...covered in white goo. 

2 minutes ago, Bob Wells said:

chicken-fried steak (AKA slab o'meat covered in white goo).

Hey! That's milk gravy! I've had chicken-fried steak that is awesome - once in particular, it was something you'd travel for, but I just can't remember where.

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20 hours ago, Bob Wells said:

One thought -- back in the day, families would stop at a national chain vs some local place because you knew what you'd be getting (see, e.g., Mad magazine's "Johnson Howard's" feature from 1966. Now, because you know what you'd be getting at a national chain, you can feel safe bypassing it in favor of the local places, which are now easy to find and take a chance on.

Or not - we have a now infamous family vacation to the Luray area where every single independent restaurant was GODAWFUL.  Like wretched bad.  We ended up cooking all of our meals for the back half of the vacation.  The family was unanimous that our best meal 'out' was the Burger King we went to after we walked out of another restaurant after a few bites.  The good food wave has apparently failed to reach certain parts of our fair country.

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33 minutes ago, zgast said:

Or not - we have a now infamous family vacation to the Luray area where every single independent restaurant was GODAWFUL.  Like wretched bad.  We ended up cooking all of our meals for the back half of the vacation.  The family was unanimous that our best meal 'out' was the Burger King we went to after we walked out of another restaurant after a few bites.  The good food wave has apparently failed to reach certain parts of our fair country.

That sucks -- what year was that? Because now when I'm in an unfamiliar area, I generally rely on Yelp. I know it has its faults, but it's helped me have good meals in some really odd locales. Places that are literally in the middle of nowhere. And it can tell you if a chain in fact is your best bet.

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Last time I went to a Cracker Barrel was after we went skiing at White Tail a few years ago. Stopped at one in Frederick. It was funny because a) a guy from South Africa in our group said the food reminded him of home and b.) my friend (now brother-in-law) was very confused that even though the menu said mains came with two vegetables, items like mac and cheese, fries, etc. were listed under vegetables. He had to ask the waitress if those counted or if they literally meant you could only get actual vegetables.

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1 hour ago, Bob Wells said:

That sucks -- what year was that? Because now when I'm in an unfamiliar area, I generally rely on Yelp. I know it has its faults, but it's helped me have good meals in some really odd locales. Places that are literally in the middle of nowhere. And it can tell you if a chain in fact is your best bet.

2015 maybe?  Yelp was a big part of the problem - 4* restaurants that screamed Sysco that was ordered a year ago.  My wife refuses to use Yelp to this day.  She also continues to give us crap for taking us to the potato chip factory on a day they weren't making potato chips, though.

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1 minute ago, zgast said:

2015 maybe?  Yelp was a big part of the problem - 4* restaurants that screamed Sysco that was ordered a year ago.  My wife refuses to use Yelp to this day.  She also continues to give us crap for taking us to the potato chip factory on a day they weren't making potato chips, though.

LOL Double whammy -- stale Sysco and no Route 11 chips!

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On 12/2/2017 at 9:24 AM, hopsing said:

I remember the Sizzler in North Arlington.  It is now a credit union.  But what sent me down memory lane was a steak chain from my high school years in New York:  Tad's Broiled Steaks.  It was across the street from where my sister and I worked on Saturdays, Macy's Herald Square.  It was such a treat to eat there.  Steak, baked potato, garlic bread, salad.  I think it was $3.49 (ok, I'm old!!!).  A splurge back in those days and we felt really grown up and mainstream American.  A nice change from the Chinese food my mother was cooking at home.  I can still remember the taste of it in my mind.  Once in a while, we also got the apple pie.  Sigh!  I think it is closed now.

1353392096_db5410ed1a_b.jpg

I just walked by this place in times square, looking very much open

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I think the Tad's across the street from Macy's Herald Square closed.  I have a feeling if I tried the one at Times Square now it would taste nothing like the one I used to go to.  For starters, the food quality wouldn't be as good -- more things now are full of preservatives and fake ingredients.  Second, my high school taste buds were not very sophisticated so I wouldn't be as impressed.

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I've never been to a Tad's but I think it was the famed novelist (and now more of a screenwriter) Richard Price (a Bronx boy), who featured Tad's in one of his early (70s) books as a place where a HS kid would take his date to impress her and guarantee a score. I got a good sense of the place from his writing.

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Sysco

I was somewhere between Arlington and...North Carolina (can't remember where) when we stoped at a mom 'n' pop BBQ shop. My DH LOVES BBQ.

This entire place was Sysco. Almost any national chain would have been better...or even WaWa.

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2 hours ago, NolaCaine said:

Sysco

I was somewhere between Arlington and...North Carolina (can't remember where) when we stoped at a mom 'n' pop BBQ shop. My DH LOVES BBQ.

This entire place was Sysco. Almost any national chain would have been better...or even WaWa.

Yeah, some of the bbq places right off 95 generally are not the best. Back before the kids came along, I used to do some bbq runs down south. It was much harder pre-internet. I remember driving around with a New York Times clipping.

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I hadn't read the above article on restaurant chains, so I am glad this thread popped back up.  I like Texas Roadhouse, they have a few in West Virginia when we are traveling far out to see my relatives down 79.  I haven't eaten at one now in probably about ten years though.  I can't remember the last time I was at a Cracker Barrel either, but agree it is also on my list of places I will stop while traveling for a meal.  I also saw on this thread mentions of Red Robin, and agree it is a pretty good chain, I have eaten there when going to the Ikea down in Woodbridge.  I used to frequent Denny's in my youth, as it was the only place in Garrett County open 24 hours, except a truck stop on the other end of the county and Sheets, we went for an after church breakfast a few years ago, hadn't changed.  I never had qualms with their basic breakfast.  I will admit to really enjoying the lettuce wraps at PF Changs, there is one in Ballston, and I will sometimes do take out of lettuce wraps.  I know I could make them at home, but why.  But again, I probably haven't had them in 2-3 years.  Normally if we are traveling  by car nowdays we bypass these options for a Chickfila, Subway or other very quick stop, as we are either on a long haul or have Max with us (Max prefers Checkers he likes the outdoor seating).  I ate at a lot more of these type places when I lived in a rural area, and in college. It is interesting how many other options you have nowdays and how the world has kind of changed in a way and these types of places, I feel, just aren't as popular, but maybe that is a very urban view on life.

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On 3/7/2018 at 7:32 PM, TrelayneNYC said:

Something tells me Ryan Sutton hated his experience:  

"L'Atelier Is the Bland, Luxury Handbag of Fancy Restaurants" by Ryan Sutton on eater.ny.com

Rethinking Chain Restaurants

What's the difference between a restaurant opening a second location, and a hotel opening a second location?

Or Cirque du Soleil having multiple troupes?

Or Amazon opening up a second headquarters?

Or BMW opening a plant in Greenville, SC?

Or a physician's practice having multiple locations?

To me, the difference is obvious: Any given location - no, any given *moment* - is created by the people interacting with you.

Whether those people are cooking your food, expediting at the pass, or selecting you a wine.

Whether those people are the top circus performers, or a minor-league operation with the same name.

Whether those people even matter, or whether a computer is performing most of your services.

Whether those people are trained automotive engineers, or are learning on-the-job.

Whether those people are the same doctor and nurse who know you, or are merely communicating remotely.

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To me a chain is indicated by having almost a visual "chain" of restaurants.  Multiple restaurants either nationwide or throughout multiple states that are identical to one another- sort of like links in a chain, they are the same in restaurant, spaced frequently. To me District Taco while now having lots of locations, isn't quite a chain.  Cava Grill at this point is a chain, but not the best example of one.  A restaurant with a couple locations doesn't make it a chain.  I think there is also consistency, like links, for it to be a chain there needs to be a lot of consistency between the locations to make it identical.

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4 minutes ago, ktmoomau said:

A restaurant with a couple locations doesn't make it a chain. 

I generally agree with you, but in this case, I'm curious: Why not? There's a reason that they came up with that specific allegorical word, "chain," which consists of two-or-more links.

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I guess after years of making jewelry, I just generally don't think two links make a chain, two links have no use to me.  That might be the technical definition, but to me to be a chain it needs to have multiple links.  If there aren't enough links for general recognition of it as a chain, then it isn't.   (Just like you may have three links and you may think of it technically as a chain, but it's likely not enough for a general populous to recognize it as such.)  I think once you have to cushion something- regional chain, etc, then I don't think of it really as the same thing either.

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13 minutes ago, ktmoomau said:

I guess after years of making jewelry, I just generally don't think two links make a chain, two links have no use to me.  That might be the technical definition, but to me to be a chain it needs to have multiple links.  If there aren't enough links for general recognition of it as a chain, then it isn't.   (Just like you may have three links and you may think of it technically as a chain, but it's likely not enough for a general populous to recognize it as such.)  I think once you have to cushion something- regional chain, etc, then I don't think of it really as the same thing either.

Ah, you're going by the jeweler's instinct; I'm going by the computer scientist's instinct. :)

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On 3/12/2018 at 11:44 AM, DonRocks said:

Ah, you're going by the jeweler's instinct; I'm going by the computer scientist's instinct. :)

But with that, are two linked computers really a chain?  Are three computers even really a chain?  If you think of block chain, the strength of it is that you have a lot of computers in a multitude of places so that there is mass duplication and can't be broken by taking one or two computers out of the chain, right?  

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