As some of you know, I adjudicate marching bands throughout the eastern half of the US form Sept-Nov. I never know where I'll be until a few weeks before the season - even then, schedules change. Sometimes it's close enough to drive, other times they put me in an airplane and I fly. The hotels I'm put in are next to the airports. I get to the hotel by the free shuttle.
One thing I've noticed, is that most hotels near the airports are pretty nice, but the area around it ranges from desolate to dingy. Rarely would I trust a local place, so I'm happy to see a Ruby tuesdays, TGIFridays and Applebees. Keep in mind, I'm not eating much there outside of an appetizer. We're well fed at the band competition by band parents, who usualy provide a very nice homecooked smorgasbord of ziti, lasagna, meatballs, pasta or pasta salad, ceasar salad, southwestern dips, etc. or BBQ in southern states, complete with beans, slaw and greens. I can't complain in the least. In fact, I look forward to it. Since I'm already fed, when I/we go to Applebees and ilk (AFTER the competition), the bourbon is the same as anywhere else.
Well, this past weekend I was in Long Island. I was flown into Islip (Long Island MacArthur) Airport. About a mile and a half away from our hotel was an Applebees. It was just about the only thing open in the desolate/isolated area. My fellow adjucator and I went in for a drink at that Applebees in Bohemia, NY. Would you believe we had to wait for table in the bar area? And, the dining room was packed. And more people came in behind us. Families, buddies, girls night out, businessmen, guys wearing sports jerseys, harley bikers, and the weary travelors (us), the place had representative from every "out to dinner/drink" group you could think of.
I've never seen ANY chain THAT packed - except for years ago when these chains were new(ish). It was surreal. The environment was fun, the waiter was excellent, the food was ok (we got wings - they're ok, the sauce isn't offensive, but it does contain too much black pepper which isn't at all "Buffalo"), the drinks were a good pour and with 1/2 price well drinks and appetizers, the night out was light on the wallet. For that alone, I can see why the bar was packed...the dining room being packed...well, that I can't figure out. But every table was being used when we arrive at 10:30pm. By midnight, the tables were clearing out a little, but the bar area was still packed. We left a still boisterous bar area at 12:30am, knowing we had a 1.5 mile walk and an 8:25am flight to Baltimore.
I wish I had pics...