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 The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read

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JRPfeff

  • Total Posts: 2376
  • Joined: 12/1/2006
  • Location: Pewaukee, WI & Fuquay-Varina, NC
The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Thu, 10/20/11 7:48 PM (permalink)
An interesting perspective on the decline of some restaurant chains.  I enjoyed this guy's writing style.
No, the reason the chains are shrinking is that they were the great commissary of the American middle class, and the middle class is itself a besieged and crippled entity. There are more proximate causes: high food prices, for example. But in the natural order of things, the chains would just respond by raising prices or shrinking portions. They can’t really do the latter because big portions are to chain restaurants what drunken co-eds are to the nation’s pay-per-view industry.
 
#1
    Foodbme

    • Total Posts: 9575
    • Joined: 9/1/2006
    • Location: Gilbert, AZ
    Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Fri, 10/21/11 4:02 AM (permalink)
    The Bride and I stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings Wed Night for a light meal. I had 2 drafts, she had Coke. I ordered 8 boneless wings and she had popcorn shrimp & fries. The bill was $30 BUCKS!! We had a coupon for 20% off so it came down to $24 and change. That's a lot for frozen food. The place wasn't very busy even though the World Series was on TV.
    The price/value relationship is out of wack at the chains.
    Our eating out has deminished considerably in the last year due to prices.
     
     
    #2
      Tony Bad

      Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Fri, 10/21/11 8:59 AM (permalink)
      The article makes some points that certainly could be valid, but there are also other issues with each of the places mentioned. Friendly's? The last good meal I had there was when Carter was President. Olive Garden? One click above Chef Boyardee. Sbarro? Too many stores, average...at best...food and many outlets in malls that are also no longer a hot item. The author mentions quality issues with many of the other places. I think that the economy is a factor, but it isn't that people aren't eating out at all, they just want to spend their dollars more wisely and spending it on costly yet sub par food isn't wise.
       
      #3
        MetroplexJim

        • Total Posts: 3706
        • Joined: 6/24/2007
        • Location: McKinney, TX
        Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Fri, 10/21/11 12:30 PM (permalink)
        Foodbme


        The Bride and I stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings Wed Night for a light meal. I had 2 drafts, she had Coke. I ordered 8 boneless wings and she had popcorn shrimp & fries. The bill was $30 BUCKS!! We had a coupon for 20% off so it came down to $24 and change. That's a lot for frozen food. The place wasn't very busy even though the World Series was on TV.
        The price/value relationship is out of wack at the chains.
        Our eating out has deminished considerably in the last year due to prices.


        I agree that the price/value ratio of BWW is way > 1.
         
        The only time I went I had the "lunch special:  6 emaciated wings, a skimpy saled served on a disposable plate with plastic utensels, and an iced tea that was never refilled:  $13 including tax and tip!  What a rip!
         
        #4
          ces1948

          • Total Posts: 1499
          • Joined: 8/6/2003
          • Location: Port St Lucie, Fl
          Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Fri, 10/21/11 3:33 PM (permalink)
          I doubt few if any of the failing chains are being replaced by locally owned places. The jobs are gone and Mcdonalds can only hire so many.
           
          #5
            Foodbme

            • Total Posts: 9575
            • Joined: 9/1/2006
            • Location: Gilbert, AZ
            Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Fri, 10/21/11 3:55 PM (permalink)
            My Bride likes Olive Garden and Red Lobster. After 53 years of marriage, I don't argue anymore. Every time we go to one they're always busy. Doesn't matter what location or day of the week. Don't see how they're going broke unless they're mis-managed at the Corporate level.
             
            #6
              Foodbme

              • Total Posts: 9575
              • Joined: 9/1/2006
              • Location: Gilbert, AZ
              Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Fri, 10/21/11 4:39 PM (permalink)
              The major QSR Corporations like Darden Concepts will continually re-invent themselves.  Once a concept runs it's course the smart companies switch to a different concept. Mexican places become Italian - Italian places become Asian - Asian become Mexican and so on.
              Americans have short attention spans and are always looking for instant gratification. After 5 years or so people get tired of a place and start looking for something new to replace it. 
              The recent Craze for Food Trucks is an example. Several years ago it was Sushi. We are always looking for something new. 
              <message edited by Foodbme on Fri, 10/21/11 4:41 PM>
               
              #7
                ces1948

                • Total Posts: 1499
                • Joined: 8/6/2003
                • Location: Port St Lucie, Fl
                Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Fri, 10/21/11 9:12 PM (permalink)
                I was going to take my MIL out to breakfast this morning to Bob Evans. Mainly we were going there because I had a B1G1 coupon. I was surprised to see a completely full parking lot at 10 AM on a Friday morning. Don't believe this was because of the coupon as it is from a mailing list not something that was in the newspaper. There also appeared to be several people waiting for tables.
                We did end up at a local place that also had a short wait but it was only about a quarter of the size of Bob Evans. It ended up being a better deal anyway with the senior special of 2 eggs, 2 bacon, grits or potatoes and toast for $4.50.
                Still want to use my coupon though.
                 
                #8
                  sk bob

                  • Total Posts: 1801
                  • Joined: 12/29/2005
                  • Location: South Daytona, FL
                  Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Sun, 10/23/11 9:19 PM (permalink)
                  I'm not a chain hater. I like Arbys, McDonalds, Burger King,etc. but I will only go to those places IF I have a coupon because that is all thier food is worth.
                  the last time I went to a casual eating place was probably 2 years ago, Carrabas, because friends were buying. not bad but we have better independent Italian places around here.
                  the time before that was Chilis, one of Third Turn Pegs coworkers gave her a gift certificate. we make better fjitas at home.
                  I do like the Ruby Tuesdays Rubys ribeye & the onion straws.
                  anyone buying?
                  <message edited by sk bob on Sun, 10/23/11 9:20 PM>
                   
                  #9
                    David_NYC

                    • Total Posts: 2162
                    • Joined: 8/1/2004
                    • Location: New York, NY
                    Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Thu, 10/27/11 11:48 AM (permalink)
                    The topic that JRPfeff originally brought up has legs. Josh Ozersky's article led to a response from The New York Times' Mark Bittman:
                    http://bittman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/20/where-awful-awful-meant-awfully-good
                    which led to another column by Josh Ozersky:
                    http://ideas.time.com/2011/10/26/in-defense-of-industrial-food/
                     
                    Unfortunately, I think neither writer explains the problem completely. I would like to see Jacques Pépin give his take on the situation. He worked at Howard Johnson's huge Queens Village, NY City commissary in the 60's during the peak of that chain's success.
                     
                    I personally agree with Mark Bittman that the industrializaton of the food served at these chains has a lot to do with people no longer going. While a lot of us here on this forum can easily spot the difference between made from scratch and "off the SYSCO truck", most people can't. They just know something is "funky" about the food they are eating. If I pay to eat out, I expect people to cook for me, not open something from the can or freezer. I can do that at home. I want someone to cook for me.
                     
                    One of the reasons these chains went to factory prepared food was for consistancy. This was to eliminate the complaints about food cooked by a guy they just hired who couldn't cook or who showed up for work stewed or stoned (Stewed=booze, stoned=drugs). Then you had decades of hot shots come in who showed they could reduce costs by adding step-saver ingredients, each time reducing the palatability of the food by just a little bit. A few decades of this and you wind up with dreck.
                     
                    I find the observation by Foodbme about Red Lobster interesting. We had a discussion about Red Lobster a few years ago and how few there were near the good seafood restaurant areas  of New England. For grins and giggles, I put in the famous fishing village of Gloucester, MA into Red Lobster's store locator. The nearest location shown is Wethersfield, CT, 120 miles away.
                     
                    #10
                      ann peeples

                      • Total Posts: 8317
                      • Joined: 5/21/2006
                      • Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
                      Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Thu, 10/27/11 8:35 PM (permalink)
                      I now work for an independent food store that has a HUGE deli department.Everything is homemade-our hot case includes everything from lasagna, beef rouladen beef stroganoff, lamb shanks, etc.All our made by our chefs. The cold deli still hand stuffs blue cheese into olives; they have an awesome liver pate, seafood salad, etc. My point is this owner makes millions of dollars with one store-he will never compromise on quality, Sysco only supplys OUR supplies, no actual ready made food.
                      On a side note- I still love a Big Mac!!!!!!
                       
                      #11
                        JRPfeff

                        • Total Posts: 2376
                        • Joined: 12/1/2006
                        • Location: Pewaukee, WI & Fuquay-Varina, NC
                        Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Thu, 10/27/11 10:38 PM (permalink)
                        Ann - Are you working at my favorite grocery store?
                         
                        David - Thanks for following up with those links. I think the NYT writer missed the point and the response had none of the fun of the original article.
                         
                        Jim
                         
                         
                        <message edited by JRPfeff on Fri, 10/28/11 12:29 AM>
                         
                        #12
                          stricken_detective

                          • Total Posts: 2330
                          • Joined: 3/10/2004
                          • Location: the 262
                          Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Sun, 10/30/11 5:05 PM (permalink)

                          If I pay to eat out, I expect people to cook for me, not open something from the can or freezer. I can do that at home. I want someone to cook for me.

                           
                          This is the meat of the issue right here. I'm not impressed by your ability to take something out of a freezer, read the directions & reheat. MY DOG could do that. And he has done that!!!!! Did you know dachshunds are EXCELLENT mozzarella-stick chefs???   I go out to eat because I don't feel like cooking and or want to eat something I don't have the energy to take on at home.
                           
                          #13
                            ann peeples

                            • Total Posts: 8317
                            • Joined: 5/21/2006
                            • Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
                            Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Sun, 10/30/11 5:53 PM (permalink)
                            If your favorite store, Jim, is Grasch in Brookfield, then yes, I am!!!!!!
                             
                            #14
                              tfrielin

                              • Total Posts: 440
                              • Joined: 4/13/2004
                              • Location: Athens, GA
                              Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Thu, 11/10/11 4:41 PM (permalink)
                              Sadly, my favorite pizza chain, Pasquales is shrinking. In the '50s/'60s and into the '70s there were scores of Pasquales, serving good pizza (better than Pizza Hut) and even better sandwiches (the Hoggie, the Stromboli Steak to name the top two).
                               
                              But now Pasquales is barely hanging on. Some guy in Birmingham, AL (corporate HQ) bought the chain with ambitious plans to revitilize it but ran into problems (appparently of his own making) and now with this long-lasting bad economy I don't know what Pasquales future is.
                               
                              Bummer.
                              <message edited by tfrielin on Thu, 11/10/11 5:08 PM>
                               
                              #15
                                Foodbme

                                • Total Posts: 9575
                                • Joined: 9/1/2006
                                • Location: Gilbert, AZ
                                Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Thu, 11/10/11 5:10 PM (permalink)
                                 
                                #16
                                  JRPfeff

                                  • Total Posts: 2376
                                  • Joined: 12/1/2006
                                  • Location: Pewaukee, WI & Fuquay-Varina, NC
                                  Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Thu, 11/10/11 10:21 PM (permalink)
                                  Foodbme - I like that one.  Although it doesn't really fit here in the Valley of the Chain, er, Sun.
                                   
                                  #17
                                    Foodbme

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                                    • Joined: 9/1/2006
                                    • Location: Gilbert, AZ
                                    Re:The Decline of the Chain - Interesting Read Thu, 11/10/11 11:12 PM (permalink)
                                    JRPfeff


                                    Foodbme - I like that one.  Although it doesn't really fit here in the Valley of the Chain, er, Sun.

                                    There's been several just prior to your glorious arrival or shortly after. Bennigans, Joe's Crab Shack, (1 location still here.) Old El Paso Steaks, Black Angus, Lone Star Steakhouse, several Benihana's, Luby's Cafeterias.

                                    <message edited by Foodbme on Thu, 11/10/11 11:15 PM>
                                     
                                    #18
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