Well, for once, the travel gods have smiled my way. My trip to Jacksonville was cancelled. So I get to spend more time in Baltimore.
My first meal as a 27 year old was cold meatloaf. I was on a con call and missed lunch. My coworkers had it wrapped and an hour later, I munched on cold meatloaf in a small huddle room at HCFA… there wasn’t even a candle in my mash potatoes.
A note about vindication… I saw, I swear, an Urban Park Ranger van. Yes, Dianne is not insane (about this at the very least.) The Urban Park Rangers really exist. Fear them.
Now on to the rant:
Chain restaurants suck! I hate the general concept of them. The whole Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris, Legals Sea Food, Capital Grille, Cheesecake Factory thing, I am over.
Why do I hate these places? Because people treat these places are fine dinning. They think that a good night out (not to mention a shit load of money spent) for a mediocre meal with passable service is a good time. Worse yet, people treat these places are cultural Meccas.
My family went (against my vote) to Capital Grille in Boston. I was aghast at the prices for boring food. I have had far better for far less. I have had far better in my own kitchen… far better. And then. And then I saw the wine list and I saw the prices and I was just plain offended. Here’s an odd thing… I don’t usually get wine when I go out to dinner. Why? ‘Cuz I know what this stuff costs and see the prices jacked up two and three and four times is just galling. Its highway robbery.
Now as a bidniss traveler, I am the first to admit than when you pull into a new town, it is nice to know what you are getting in terms of a meal. This is the only thing in favor of these chain jobs.
There is another and far worse problem with chain restaurants. They screw the little guy. The local place, the mom and pop place, gets priced out of the market. If you are small shop, like Anne Cashion’s Cashions, you can buy at what the market dictates. But large chains, like Morton’s, can dictate the market because they buy in such huge volumes. The little guy has a harder time getting a better deal. And what happens next? The little guy has to pass on the higher cost of buy supplies to the customer and then you, the customer, get grumpy at the higher cost. (Very much like the Walmart effect.)
What can you do? Number one, eat locally. Hunt out the local places run by local people to eat. Try Cashions. Try La Fourchette. Scour sidewalk.com to find something to eat that isn’t a chain. Number two, check out Slow Foods (http://www.slowfood.com/cgi-bin/SlowFood.dll/SlowFood_Com/scripts/Chisiamo/chisiamo.jsp?SlowFood=SF). These are people with the right mindset.
So to the chain of foods, I say, “Fork you!”