Common misconceptions that every diner should understand.
5: Casual Dining Chain Restaurants Aren’t Local
The profits aren’t local. The cooks, servers, bartenders, dishwashers, managers and cleaning staff are all local. Whether you live in Germany, Australia or Massachusetts, the fine folks serving your meal are your neighbors. The large chains may bank elsewhere, but the people working there have bills at your gas company, your electric company, your tax office. Many chain restaurants combat this opinion by promoting their General Managers into General Managing Partners, which turns the biggest boss of a particular location into a part owner.
4: Casual Dining Chain Restaurants are Politically Correct
In regards to branding, customer service, and Human Resources, yes, they are. However, a kitchen is a kitchen no matter the sign on the front door. There will be the same sort of shenanigans in a chain restaurant as there are in the mom and pop operation. Cooks will still sneak outside at closing time, and servers and bartenders will still hang out at the end of the shift. The biggest difference is that the chain restaurant doesn’t want it to happen in their “store.” Employees often do their drinking at rival restaurants.
3: Casual Dining Chain Restaurants aren’t Innovative
Who is? The wonderful thing about copying a concept is that you can learn from the original concept’s mistakes. Being innovative in the restaurant industry is a good thing, but not required. What chain restaurants do is take innovative ideas and perfect them—fine tune them—and remove the error of the original. From a business perspective, there is nothing wrong with that. If you have a Thanksgiving dinner and tell the cook it was the best you ever had, do you fault him for not inventing it?
Besides, chain restaurants are innovative with their technology.
The process of getting food to the guest has changed dramatically because of chain restaurants. They serve guests so efficiently that competitors had to invent ways of speeding up their process. Thus, many technologies like self-cleaning fryers and computer monitors above the cook-line have been created.
2: Casual Dining Chain Restaurant Food Isn’t Homemade
A good server, one who knows you tip well, will probably tell you which items are, and which are not, homemade (22 percent is a good tip, 25 percent is better, 18 percent means you think the server should find another line of work, 15 percent means you are on your way to the funeral home to pick out your casket because nobody tips that badly anymore). There are several items in chain restaurants that come from a warehouse, ready to microwave. But there are also many, if not most, which are made the same way in the chain restaurant as they are in the locally owned eatery. Look for the items which are fresh, and signature items; those items are the most likely to be homemade.
1: Casual Dining Chain Restaurants Put Small Restaurants Out of Business
Small restaurants put small restaurants out of business. The oft repeated statistic is 10%. Only ten percent of restaurants stay open through their first year of business. Those restaurants, just like the other eight before them, are destined to fail.
Competition drives sales. Have you ever left your house to go out to eat, before you’ve decided on where to go? If you have, you will gravitate to the center of the restaurant district. You go somewhere where you know you will have options, and if you didn’t plan it out, you avoid the high-end joint that gives you a guilt trip about your lack of a reservation. The chain restaurant provides a seat, a hot meal, and, although it may not be the best meal ever, you can count on being served by a local college kid or a retired homemaker.
And, no, there are no chefs back there, as illustrated here.
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