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Boston Restaurant Blog >> 2005 archives >> May, 2005 >> blog entry

Boston Restaurant Blog -- May, 2005

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Why Are Restaurant Chains So Popular?

Just a few thoughts while watching the unfortunately-named J.J. Putz shut down the Boston Red Sox...

Why is it some of the great Boston restaurants have trouble filling their tables while generic, soulless restaurant chains have hour-long waits night after night? It never ceases to amaze me that I can walk right into any number of fantastic East Watertown restaurants like Sepal [CLOSED], Strip-Ts, or the Aegean, while right around the corner, Bugaboo Creek is moving them in and trucking them out like there's no tomorrow. Now, I have nothing against Bugaboo Creek (and think it's actually one of the better chains), but I simply wonder why people opt for this option when there are better choices within walking distance.

I can't tell you how many times I have driven past a bustling Applebee's, TGI Friday's, or Joe's American Bar and Grill on my way to a totally empty restaurant that blows the doors off these restaurant chains. Why is this? What do people out there think about this? Is it that a place like Applebee's is family-friendly? Is TGI Friday's simply more convenient than individually-owned restaurants? Is Joe's American Bar and Grill less expensive than the ma-and-pa dining spots? Or is it something a bit more ominous, such as the fact that these places and other chains tend to serve food that is especially tasty and addictive due to its high fat content and dubious ingredients?

Obviously, I'm not about to tell someone that they shouldn't go to a Red Lobster or Olive Garden. But I would like to give a few top-notch alternatives to some of the more popular chains. Here they are:

1) Instead of Applebee's, TGI Friday's, or Joe's American Bar and Grill, check out Jimmy's Steer House in Arlington, Amrheins in South Boston, or Silvertone in Boston.

2) Instead of Olive Garden, head over to Abbondanza in Everett, Luciano's in Wrentham, or La Scala in Randolph.

3) Instead of Red Lobster, try Clara's in Franklin, the Village Restaurant in Essex, or Out of the Blue in Somerville.

These are just a few out of hundreds of non-chain options. If you want any other alternatives, post a comment, and I'll try to respond as soon as possible. And by the way, there are some chains that I think are really good, including PF Chang's (Chinese food) and the Cracker Barrel (down-home American cooking). But even in those cases, there are still better options.

Anyone out there who frequents the restaurant chains? If so, I'd love to hear your comments. It would be great to hear both sides of this issue.

Related Blog Entries: restaurant chains

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