Originally posted by jesskidden
Screenbear said: "The decor is Early Rummage shop...you know, bicycle wheels hanging, pictures on the wall of relatives know one ever knew, etc."
Not the relatively new one in East Windsor, NJ. Tho' you can't tell from the photo of the exterior on the website, the inside is done in a very tasteful, 1940's-era nightclub "moderne" style- lots of curves. (Perhaps the architect stopped for lunch at the Americana Diner and swiped the idea, figuring that what folks 'round here like).
I did say that the decor was "tasteful"- can't say the same for the food. The staff, however, is very friendly- there was a large group of giggling waitresses around the "hostess podium" and, in the lounge, they were laughing and watching sports on TV. Very friendly with each other, gee, one hated to disturb them....
As you observed, the decor does tend to vary a bit from one of their locations to another. What doesn't vary very much is the food. Essentially, I consider the food to be one very small notch above what you would get in Houlihan's, Ruby Tuesday, Applebee's, Fridays, The Office (another NJ-based chain) etc. While it is a smaller chain than most of the aformentioned places, it is still a chain, with the inevitable standardization and mediocrity that characterizes most chain operations.
The wait staff appear to have been schooled in friendliness (you know--kneeling down at the table in order to be more "down-to-earth"--literally), and are usually pleasant even if they have no clue about what they are serving. For example, I asked the waitress at a Charlie Brown's to describe what was in a certain pastry. Her response, after listing two ingredients was, "...and it's like--baked
". Imagine that! A pastry that is baked! Wow, that is a revelation! Then again, she never said that it was baked
. She said that it was..."like baked
". And that, of course, could be some new culinary technique with which I am not familiar, as all of my cook books list the period of time for baking pastries and other desserts, and make no reference to "like baking
(I should also add that her response to my question was uttered as if she was asking
a question, just as so many other teen and 20 something types tend to do when making a statement. So, maybe she was asking me, rather than telling me--"and it's like baked
?? Perhaps I should have clarified the issue for her.)
The food preparation at these places is usually performed by people who have no culinary training--and it shows. The wait staff have no clue as to food in general. All of this being said, if you have no diners in your neighborhood, a Charlie Brown's restaurant could be a lunch/dinner stand-in for a diner, as long as you don't mind that much of the food has been prepared in an off-premises commissary and then merely reheated in a microwave.