Monday, August 6, 2012

Does That Complete Your Order?

Have you noticed a new trend in eateries popping up everywhere? Gone are the days of walking into a place, seeing a hostess and being directed to a seat to wait for your waiter. The new places instead are following the lead of fast food restaurants, only they want to disguise themselves as something more than fast-food.

Baja Fresh
I noticed it with the newest addition of Mexican food places the past few years. Moes Southwest Grill, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Baja Fresh - you walk in and order, pay, watch them make your food and then find a seat. Some places like Boston Market and SmashBurger may tell you to take seat and then they'll bring you your food (so you still think you are in an actual restaurant.) Then it brings up another issue: tipping. You feel as if you did the work, but someone brought you your food so now do you tip?

This weekend I tried out the new Bobby Flay place. I know he has different places all over and I had heard great things about this new burger joint. Similar to Smashburger (love the fried pickles), you walk in and order and then think "what if I can't find a seat at the counter?" Yes. Counters. Think old-fashioned diner meets club with the vast high ceilings (as the music and noise were so loud, you won't be having a conversation during this meal). The entire 'experience' left me un-nerved and it didn't seem like a relaxing way to eat.
Bobby's Burger Palace

I will give it to Bobby Flay when it comes to sauces. He creates many and they are all there to try. I had a wonderful Napa Valley Burger with goat cheese and watercress and my partner in burger crime had the Philly Burger. We shared fries and both thought the burger itself seemed small. Maybe we are just overeaters who are used to larger burgers, but between that and the "fast casual burger concept" - I'm not sure we'll be back.

I'm all for being inventive and changing up what people expect. And perhaps I'm the only one that that thinks these new places aren't simply another fast food place. (With the prices of the menu, it certainly seems more like a sit-down restaurant). In this economy I get owner's need to be savvy and think of what parts of that dinning experience they can put back on the consumer, but then I think at meal's end - maybe that tip should stay in my pocket.    



  1. I totally agree with you Gregory. I've been a long time chef in south western Nebraska since 1981, thenwhen when Country Clubs, Fine Dining and real steakhouses were abundant. Today there are more Franchises, fast-food chains and others who claim they are legitimate but really, they are out of the package pro-reheaters in disquise. Don't get me wrong, there are still legit Steakhouses and fine
    dining here but I have seen the change throughout
    the years! I do like your quote by Abraham Lincoln
    as well!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Chef - and for sharing your comments. It is an ever changing world we live in (but if I wanted a slider, I'd order one). :-)

      And yes...that is my favorite quote.

      Enjoy what is left of summer.