Last night on our way home from letting some furniture delivery guys into my parents' house in San Marcos, we stopped at T.G.I.Friday's* for dinner. Neither of us had a specific craving for Friday's, it was just on the way and we were hungry. It's going to be a good long while before we return, at least until I forget how sucktastic it is.
We didn't have any of the big chain restaurants in Lawton when I was growing up, so eating at a Chili's, Bennigan's, or the OG** when we were in Dallas or Houston was something of a treat. I remember thinking back then the food was actually good, maybe just because we didn't eat out all that often. Nowadays, Lawton is littered with all the favorites, with Outback Steakhouse, Applebees, and Chili's in the same block. There is even, after 20 years of it's rumored arrival, an Olive Garden.
I haven't been to the Olive Garden in like, forever!
Ryan and I were discussing this as we left the restaurant, that food at chain restaurants used to be grilled/cooked right there in the kitchens as opposed to popping a frozen chicken patty in the microwave***. These days the food has the unique ability to LOOK exactly like the menu pictures, but taste as fresh as a Hot Pocket smothered in Jack Daniel's sauce.
It's not just the food that screams mediocrity. It's all about fake fun. Fake fun is a term we in the Steans family started using a few years ago to describe the methods used to convince people they are having a GOOD TIME. Fake fun is obnoxious waiters who chummily slide next to you in your booth to take your order. Fake fun is wall flair: random objects barfed up on the walls intended to look like priceless artifacts from American culture but whose mass construction in a warehouse somewhere couldn't make them less original. Fake fun is the bland Clear Channel pop wrestling for your attention with the 15 TVs hanging over the bar.
I have no question as to the motivation of fake fun tactics. But don't try to make me think your establishment is unique and wacky by throwing giant pool balls on the walls. And for God's sake, try a little harder on the food. That was gross.
*Emphasizing my point, I chose not to link to the Friday's site due to the blaring 'good times' music
**ditto for Olive Garden
***I have no evidence of microwaved food, but I am highly suspicious