Back in 2007, TGI Fridays was my ish. My coworkers and I would would be there almost every Thursday for Happy Hour drinking discounted drinks. I would always order the Spinach Dip, Jack Daniels Chicken Strips and a half order of fries. Baaaby, you couldn’t tell me anything.
Sometime in 2010 or so, my best friend Smiles and I went to TGIFridays for a quick meal. The food was ungreat and the service was downright awful. The customers were extra. I haven’t been back since.
Applebee’s used to be a favorite too. In college, we would all go out to eat and there would be a whole table of us. I was the Queen of getting free stuff because my order was ALWAYS wrong. It was kind of big time, you know. Not high class, but definitely not Denny’s. We would only go when we had money left over from refund checks. I would always order the Brownie dessert, making sure to remind the waiter to make sure the brownie was hot so the ice cream would melt. Being the broke-ass students that we were, we would all leave a dollar tip. We didn’t know any better.
A month or so ago, Bear and I were out and about and decided to stop by Applebee’s. Rewind that. Bear decided to go and I reluctantly followed. As soon as we walked in, that smell hit me. You know that smell. That industrial, old mop water smell. The only people there were older, retirement-looking couples. The food was ungreat. To the point where Bear complained and that’s a rarity. So we poured out a little of our Applebee’s watered down liquor and put Applebees’ to death on our list of places to eat.
Recently Bear, after seeing a commercial on television, decided that we should give Red Lobster a try. Do you see where this is going? I gave him the slight side-eye and reminded him of our chain restaurant graveyard. But he insisted since he never picks the restaurant, so I gave in. Now you know I haven’t been in a Red Lobster since 2005. But I have to admit, those Cheddar Bay Biscuits look good on the commercials. Back in the day, that was our date spot. It was also my “i don’t feel like cooking” spot. I used to call in an order of Clam Chowder and biscuits and be good.
So we google’d the restaurant and got there in time for lunch. Ugh. That smell again. I swear, they must use the same dirty mop water as Applebee’s. Once again, we were troopers. Bear ordered the Cajun Chicken Linguini Alfredo and I ordered the coconut shrimp, a shrimp Caesar salad, and the clam chowder. I just wasn’t satisfied. The coconut shrimp was a bit more greasy than I remember, and it was too sweet. Bear said the pasta didn’t taste like it used to. We ended up once again, pouring out our margaritas and agreeing that Red Lobster just wasn’t for us anymore.
So what happened? These places used to be staples in our list of restaurants. As a matter of fact, we thought we were doin’ it! Bear and I decided that our taste buds have just changed. After learning to cook using fresh vegetables and leaner cuts of meet, tasting a variety of cuisines from different cultures, and going to higher quality restaurants, the foods that used to taste so great, just didn’t anymore. We had just outgrown it. Cooking at home got us used to not eating so much grease so fast food isn’t even enjoyable. I used to love some Popeye’s, ya heard. But I just can’t eat it like I used to.
So about those folks who “say” they don’t do chain restaurants. I can understand it, especially if they are talking about the ones that I named. Plus, there are soooo many independent restaurants, that you could eat for the next 15 years and probably not do a chain again. But I don’t think it cool to just unilaterally rule out chains. Plenty of folks from all walks of life eat at chains, because they are affordable and usually consistent. Plus folks go around talking about they don’t do chains and then stay up in Houston’s, P.F. Changs and Pappadeaux’s. Smdh.
So what about you. Do you eat at chain restaurants? Have you had to let go of some of them because your tastes changed?