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Kris
June 4th, 2003, 07:56 AM
June 4, 2003

Chains Bring Strip Mall Flavor, or Lack of It, to Manhattan

By MARIAN BURROS

WE come here a lot," Leja Kress said with a nervous giggle as she, her sister and a colleague dined at Applebee's in Battery Park City before going to a movie next door.

"We like the bland overpriced food," she explained, about to order the Oriental chicken salad for $10.99. More peals of laughter from the table of hip young New Yorkers: loft in TriBeCa; Web and graphic design firm.

"This place cracks us up," Ms. Kress continued. "All the fake memorabilia. It's like trying to look like it's old, but it's only been here a year."

So, after moving from suburban Pittsburgh to a city with hundreds of interesting places to eat, what was she doing in a chain restaurant?

"It's a little bit of the suburbs that you can't get here," Ms. Kress said.

Move over L'Acajou, Pink Tea Cup, Hacienda and all the other little places with a character of their own. Casual-dining chain restaurants are setting up beachheads in Manhattan. Andrew Barish, a stock analyst, who tracks this category for Banc of America Securities, said the chains have become such well-known national brands — the category has $50 to $60 billion in annual sales — that they are ready to take on this high-cost city, one that prides itself on its individuality and its wealth of restaurants in every ethnic niche and for every pocketbook.

And they are not just in neighborhoods where they would attract out-of-towners already familiar with them. In addition to the Applebee's in Battery Park City (at 102 North End Avenue), Outback Steakhouse has opened in Chelsea (60 West 23rd Street) and on the East Side (919 Third Avenue, at 56th Street), and Olive Garden has opened in Chelsea (696 Avenue of the Americas, at 22nd Street). Applebee's and Olive Garden already have restaurants in Times Square, where they will soon be joined by a Red Lobster. T.G.I. Friday's, which first opened in 1965, is still a presence.

Tim Zagat of the Zagat restaurant surveys can't imagine why they would open anywhere in Manhattan besides Times Square. "In this environment they are not going to make it because there are too many good little restaurants on every corner that offer better food than these places," he said.

So what appeal do these generic kitchens hold for New Yorkers? "It's the familiarity and convenience," said Dave Schiffler, an investor who just moved from Manhattan to Staten Island, and was having dinner recently with his wife, Kristina, at Outback on Third Avenue. "We travel a lot for vacation and work, and we go to them wherever we are. It's usually cheap, just not cheap in the city. There are a thousand different places that have better steak. When I take out clients I go to Peter Luger's. Here you know how it's going to be."

Convenience and familiarity are constant themes. Eileen Lynch, a designer in the garment district, was dining at Olive Garden in Chelsea, she said, because it was closer to home than other places she usually goes, like Le Zie. "That's very good and almost the same price as here," she said.

Amanda Keckonen, who is in marketing, goes to Olive Garden when her fiancé is busy. "He doesn't share my feelings about it," she said. "I'm from a small town in Michigan and it reminds me of home. I have a little junk food treat and the price is decent."

But several of the diners thought Olive Garden's prices, where entrees range from $10.95 for pasta to $23.50 for a T-bone (with soup or salad with refills), were high. "Actually, this place is a little more expensive than we expected," said Jeffrey Butler, an art director who lives on the Upper West Side with his fiancée, Ann Pittman, a human resources manager. They prefer Gabriela's, close to where they live, but Ms. Pittman said they wanted to try Olive Garden because "it reminds us of home."

Clark Wolf, the restaurant consultant, is not surprised that locals are going to casual chain restaurants. "New Yorkers as a group are not at the cutting edge and that's the dirty secret," he said. "As brutal as it sounds, these chains reflect the expectations of the community."

Even some of the people who run the restaurants acknowledged that the cooking might not be their main appeal.

"The small places can compete on food, but not marketing muscle," said Zane Tankel, the chairman of Apple-Metro Inc., which owns 22 Applebee's in the metropolitan New York area, including the two in Manhattan. "That's where we leave them in the dust. We come in under a $100 million marketing budget."

Mr. Barish, the stock analyst, said that Applebee's, Outback, Olive Garden and Red Lobster spend a total of about $350 million a year on advertising and marketing.

"In these uncertain times, consumers tend to narrow their choices and go to the most recognizable and dependable, whether high end or casual," he said. "It doesn't hurt they've been reminded constantly throughout the week watching TV."

Dr. Steven J. Sherman, a professor of psychology at Indiana University, says that advertising can also convince customers that they're getting a bargain. "It's advertising and assumptions about the quality or price and it's the quantity," he said, because people say to themselves, "Well I can give up a little quality for quantity."

Bottomless salad bowls and breadstick baskets, free refills on drinks, not to mention large portions, play into the idea that these restaurants are a bargain.

But for the same prices as a chain restaurant meal you can get the same quantity and higher quality elsewhere in these neighborhoods. Half a block from Outback, there is Hacienda, on 56th Street between Second and Third Avenues, where a huge enchilada plate costs $12, with dessert for $6. Next week diners will be able to get a three-course meal there for $19.95. The cheapest entree at Outback is $10.49 for the chicken; everything else is at least in the mid-teens.

Just around the corner from Olive Garden in Chelsea is L'Acajou, where a three-course dinner with a glass of wine and coffee is $29.50 between 6:30 and 8. The cheapest dinner at Olive Garden is $28.15.

In higher income neighborhoods, urban or otherwise, these chain restaurants may offer more expensive wines and a wider selection of them, and a place like Outback will serve prime as well as choice beef.

In a place where you can find an Eritrean restaurant and another that serves only rice pudding, mass-produced restaurants can be an interesting novelty. "I grew up in Brooklyn, where there are no chain restaurants, so I enjoy it," said Marlene Soukavanitch, a lawyer who was eating at the Applebee's in Battery Park City. Although, she added, "I don't love it."

After sampling the wares at Outback, Applebee's and Olive Garden in New York and a Red Lobster in suburban Virginia, I was not surprised to learn that the menus are created by committees at headquarters. Consumer panels and computers are often consulted, recipes revised again and again, before test marketing even begins. Based on what I've eaten, the tweaking is guaranteed to keep the flavor out.

Maybe that's not entirely fair. At Outback Steakhouse, the steak is no worse than at hundreds of independent steakhouses. The signature deep-fried "bloomin' onion" and the vegetables are well cooked.

At Olive Garden, there is a tender, though tasteless, pork fillet and a tasty artichoke and spinach dip, but otherwise there is little good to say about the menu there, a shameful indictment for a company that owns a culinary institute and a restaurant in Tuscany. Do the Italians know about this?

By and large at Applebee's, what isn't fried is drenched in butter or cream, or covered with cheese or bacon.

Nutrition information, by the way, is available only for the "light food" in those chains that serve it.

Service is a big selling point. The food is served at breakneck speed. At Red Lobster, the first and second courses came simultaneously. Mr. Tankel of Applebee's said his restaurants pride themselves on getting their customers in and out in an average of 42 minutes.

But since none of the restaurants take reservations, the wait for a table on weekends can be as long as two hours.

The waiters and waitresses were always overarchingly friendly. Shortly after I sat down to dinner at Outback Steakhouse, the waitress arrived. After saying hi, she plopped herself down across from me in the booth. Shaken by the move, I asked, "Are you planning to have dinner with me?"

"Oh no," she answered. "They tell us to sit down. I always feel I'm invading someone's space but since the whole side was open. . . ."
At least at Red Lobster they don't sit down; they just kneel. To be at eye level with you, the waitress explained.

And maybe Keith Keogh at Red Lobster is on to something about comfort. As the executive chef and the senior vice president for food and beverage excellence, he said the secret to Red Lobster's success is that "you don't have a knife and fork in your hand," adding that "it's just more comfortable because you are using your hands and you are much more involved in the food emotionally. "

Whoever thought New Yorkers would care? But Mr. Wolf, the restaurant consultant, said globalization is even having an impact on New York's famous rudeness. "New York," he said, "is accepting people trained to be nice."

Mr. Barish said it's too early to draw conclusions about the success of casual-dining chains in Manhattan.

But Mr. Tankel of Applebee's said there is room for 10 more of his company's restaurants in Manhattan.

"What's the difference between a diner in Arkansas, or on Route 1, and a diner in Manhattan?" he asked. "Absolutely nothing."


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Schadenfrau
June 4th, 2003, 11:18 AM
God, how alarming. I've lived in New York for nine years, and the changes I've seen in the past year or so are making me seriously consider just giving it up.

When did New York City start morphing into Newyorkland?

billyblancoNYC
June 4th, 2003, 12:05 PM
Makes me sick.

Gulcrapek
June 4th, 2003, 01:54 PM
Me too.

There's a new KFC/Domino's place in Marine Park, a new KFC in Ft Greene, an Applebee's in Sheepshead Bay, and an Olive Garden among other things at Gateway Center (though I like to think that place doesn't exist).

Thankfully, from what I hear Applebee's isn't doing so well.

chris
June 4th, 2003, 04:31 PM
Want to do something?

Don't patronize them.

I'll admit it, if I'm in a hurry I'll occasionally run in McDonalds. If I want to go sit down at a restaurant and dine, there are dozens, no hundreds of places to go in my neighborhood, and that is where I choose to spend my money.

I don't like the chain restaurants coming into midtown either, but I'm not going to be a hypocrite and go be a NIMBY about it. This thread seems so hypocritical on this board, I can hardly believe it's posted here.

Kris
June 4th, 2003, 06:16 PM
Has anyone proposed to ban chain restaurants? If you're unhappy with the articles posted here, you know what you can do.

ZippyTheChimp
June 4th, 2003, 06:51 PM
Damn NY Times. The existence of Applebee's in BPC was supposed to be our dirty little secret.

Actually, it's ironic. For years, we've been hoping a great little restaurant like those on Greenwich St would open here. So what do they give us?

Eatin' good, *eatin' good in the neighborhood *

Jasonik
June 4th, 2003, 07:04 PM
So . . . BPC is a suburb of Manhattan?

chris
June 4th, 2003, 07:13 PM
I see the chains come in arround the tourist traps. I live two blocks from Time Square, great restaurants, and there is hardly a chain restaurant arround me (except 2 blocks away, of course).

Is there a favorite restaurant thread?

ZippyTheChimp
June 4th, 2003, 07:40 PM
Quote: from Jasonik on 7:04 pm on June 4, 2003
So . . . BPC is a suburb of Manhattan?

Yup, all we need is a Target and TGIF, and we're good to go.

The Applebee's is in the Embassy Suites building. With the multiplex next door and the parking lot, the Fargo People never have to leave the hotel area, except the trek one block to WTC.

Jasonik
June 4th, 2003, 07:45 PM
Is the LMDC selling spots in the WTC Memorial food court? *;)

Agglomeration
June 5th, 2003, 01:12 AM
Whatever you do people, if you want to save the small places, patronize them and keep away from these suburban invaders, and tell your family and friends to do the same. Their mission is to drive their mom-and-pop competitors out of business like Wal-Mart and take over the entire market. And the way they're continuing to expand into a restaurant business that's still hurting makes me sick.:angry: We can't afford to see our precious revenue start pouring into far-away places like Bentonville, Arkansas.

Let's hope we don't start seeing a Wal-Mart in Midtown.

(Edited by Agglomeration at 1:20 am on June 5, 2003)

billyblancoNYC
June 5th, 2003, 09:50 AM
Wal-Mart in midtown... sweet. *Maybe AOLTW will surprise us!

Agglomeration
June 5th, 2003, 02:01 PM
Maybe I'm a little too ahead of myself, but these chain stores have had a presence in Times Square for a long time, and they will stay there for a while. My main concern is whether they will Suburbanize all these other areas instead of existing side by side peacefully with the mom-and pop restaurants. If these chains are intent on dominating the market and driving small restaurants out of business, let's not patronize them, just for the sake of it. *

Hof
December 9th, 2004, 02:43 PM
Now that the City is more acceptable to chain restaurants,I think I'll franchise my local bar and open a branch in NYC,maybe in Chelsea.
I'm calling it "Beer",and it'll feature redneck waitresses,a leaking roof and 2 dollar Bud Longnecks.The bartenders will all be ex-cons.Since the managemant will be trained into ignoring laws,it'll be a smoker's bar,so bring your Camels,and the only food available will be microwaved hot dogs or Beer Nuts.No knives,guns or dogs,please,and I'll post a sign over the bar to that effect.
Shoes (and shirts) will be optional.Teeth,too.I'm hoping that It will remind a lot of folks of "home".
I'll have to dig up a sidewalk so my patrons can park in the mud,and I'll have a local artist paint a faded Confederate flag on the ceiling,then I'll sit back and wait for New York to beat a path to my door.

alex ballard
December 9th, 2004, 03:21 PM
I think this thread has a deeper meaning. This is the price you pay for prosperity. You want the companies, corporations and those kids from the country and the suburbs to set up shop here, but then you have to accept that their culture is going to come with them. Think about the other cities for a minute. Sure, they're not being "disneyfied". But they're dying as well. Everything in life is a balance of good and bad. Plus, I think 9/11 made these resturants and the American people in general look at our city in a different light. In the past, none of these chains would touch anything outside of midtown (of course, you can forget about the outer boroughs). But after seeing our "American" side, they figured coming here would be a good move. No real NYers are going to eat there anyway, just the newcomers (and by newcomers, I generally mean those country kids. I think the immigrants will stick to their own cusine, which will turn out to be the blessing for these small places). So this is something we're gonna have to accept. However, when the mega-malls, Wal-Marts, and soccer moms start to invade the boroughs, I think then we should think about fighting :wink: .

Ninjahedge
December 9th, 2004, 04:21 PM
the thing that gets me in the article is that EVERY SINGLE PERSON said in it that the ONLY reason they go ther is because "it reminds them of home".

Jesus!

They say the food is blah, and it is overpriced, but they need some junk food.


??!?!?!?

Seriously, houston, we have a problem.

I think the main problem is just what has been said, these chains are not interested in building a neighbohood. We will not have "chain alley" like we have the indian food strip in the East Village.

If I wanted chain food, I could grab a path to Newport or take a car out to the malls in Jersey, I do not need them here in the city.

Of all the things that people go to, I cannot believe that they go to Olive Garden! Of ALL the places to go, italian?!?!?!? In NYC???!?!

I am still marvelling at the fact that Dominos can deliver in the city and in previously Italiano dominated neighborhoods like Hoboken!

I do think there is a place for these restaurants. Mainly towns along the highway where the only alternative is a greasy spoon that has even the roaches demanding their money back. But in NYC it is dissapointing.

I don't need South Street Seaport to become the South Street Mall, but it looks like I am too late on that one.

Meat packing district may be next!


Oh, in all fairness though, the reasons why these places survive is because people know them and visit. The same reason that thr trendy spots can get so much buisness for services that are just as crappy.

So we now have two human failings supporting two trends, the Suburban Foreign Exchange Students and the "OMG I was at XXX!".

Zoe
December 10th, 2004, 09:31 AM
Whoops, just saw the Wal-Mart Poll... Sorry for the bad posting

tmg
December 10th, 2004, 09:50 AM
Hof --

Perhaps this will work?
http://graphics.jsonline.com/graphics/travel/img/oct02/trailer1013.jpg
http://www.jsonline.com/dd/destnat/oct02/87091.asp

Ninjahedge
December 10th, 2004, 10:46 AM
Hof --

Perhaps this will work?
http://graphics.jsonline.com/graphics/travel/img/oct02/trailer1013.jpg
http://www.jsonline.com/dd/destnat/oct02/87091.asp

You read my mind.

Isn't there another one on 7th at about 12th street or so?

Or is that 8th.....


And you must not forget Rodeo!

Hof
December 11th, 2004, 09:03 AM
LMAO !!!
You slick New Yorkers out-think everyone,and you steal ideas before anyone even makes them up!Damn,y'all are good.
Now I have to dream up a whole new idea that I can franchise in NYC.
Let's see...a Disco Tapas Bar??
Goth vegetarian??
Something Guiliani-themed?
Something that involves actual mobile homes in Manhattan.I'd name it "The Temporary Classroom",and serve New York's BEST bologna sandwich.
A police-themed Steakhouse named "Bernie Kerik's".The waiters,all illegals, would quit just before the place opens.
I'll think on this some more.Right now,I'm going to go on down to "Beer",my neighborhood bar, and spend some time.I'm drawn there by the special hot dogs they feature.

peterd
July 12th, 2005, 05:54 PM
The chain restaurants not "invading" New York; they're returning home to the city which gave birth to them. Check this out:

http://www.tgifridays.com/News/fri_bg.htm

" T.G.I. Friday's, one of the first American casual dining chains, offers a unique dining experience that has become the favorite pastime of millions worldwide. Opening in 1965, the first T.G.I. Friday's restaurant was located at First Avenue and 63rd Street in New York City and featured red and white stripes, a blue exterior and its name -- T.G.I. Friday's"

So quitcher complaining about "suburbanization" and such - the big chains coming here is simply an example of (battered, deep-fried, cheese-covered) chickens coming home to roost.

(And by the way, I kind of like Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana.)

Ninjahedge
July 13th, 2005, 08:34 AM
It started off small, left and got fat like the rest of America, and is now coming back in with all it's children to take up room on an already crowded bus.


I hope they fail miserably. The LAS thing I need is the Great Outdoor Mall of NYC.

BrooklynRider
July 13th, 2005, 09:59 AM
I think that AMC on 42nd Street is one of the best theaters in the city. I am AMAZED that whenever I exit the theater and head down the escalators past the Applebees it is not only crowded, but there is ALWAYS a line waiting to get in. Jeez, a walk one block to Ninth Ave and you have a culinary paradise. I just don't get it - but, then again, it takes a chain like this to pay the ridiculous rents that drive the homegown little places out of town.

lofter1
July 13th, 2005, 10:41 AM
The most gratifying news I've read on wirednewyork.com is that the building where the heinous Bennigans on 8th Ave. / 47th Street (former site of B. Smith's restaurant) is planned for demo and a new building to go up there.

Good riddance and adios!

Ninjahedge
July 13th, 2005, 10:50 AM
Is that right near LC (forgive my ignorance).

I just knew there was a Bennies/Houlihan/TGIF/Applebee/OMG this looks like the basement of my dreams "home" restaurant that charged its customers somewhere neat $12 for a HAMBURGER.


Now, I know the area is expensive, but when you look at the price of a burger, and it is more than the entrees at THE SAME RESTAURANT ONLY 10 MILES AWAY, you get a little bitter.....

czsz
July 14th, 2005, 01:03 AM
I'm still trying to figure out why the Applebee's on 50th Street seems to think its customers will need free WiFi...

BrooklynRider
July 14th, 2005, 09:38 AM
And I'm still trying to figure out WHY APPLEBEE's on 50th.

NewYorkYankee
July 14th, 2005, 07:17 PM
Look at it from the franchise point of view. If I owned Applebees Id def. want a New York location. Look at the profits they must be making. I cant blame them at all.

peterd
July 16th, 2005, 01:44 PM
It's possible that they aren't making any profits - sometimes chains open a "flagship" store in Times Square (or on 5th Ave) more for the marketing and for the cachet than for the money. Think of them as walk-in billboards. Or think of them as a sign that a chain has truly "arrived" (or "rebounded" - for example, Toys R Us).

Of course, what do I know. It's possible that they are making money hand-over-fist, too. Bonus for them.

pianoman11686
July 18th, 2005, 12:44 AM
Not really a restaurant, but definitely a chain that serves food:

It's Slurpee Time on 23rd Street. Are Camaros Next?

By JAKE MOONEY

Published: July 17, 2005

There is no parking lot in front of Manhattan's first 7-Eleven store, no place on the corner of 23rd Street and Park Avenue South for bored teenagers to idle their Camaros, smoke cigarettes, talk aimlessly on the pay phone and stare at one another other over bags of beef jerky.

Otherwise, it is a 7-Eleven like any other. Offerings include 64-ounce Big Gulp sodas, glistening quarter-pound hot dogs rotating slowly next to the register, frozen Slurpees in six flavors, and the debilitating brain freeze that comes from drinking one of the latter too quickly. Fourteen pots of coffee are warming simultaneously.

The biggest difference, really, is the city outside. The chain, a fixture in suburbia for decades, has stores in the other four boroughs, along with Long Island, New Jersey and much of the rest of the country, according to the 7-Eleven Web site. But until this month, many Manhattanites had never known the taste of a Cheeseburger Big Bite, a cylindrical wad of meat and cheese that spins on the grill near the hot dogs and fried taquitos.

By the looks of the store last week, sophisticated city people's tastes are not so different from those of their distant counterparts, buying late-night coffee and doughnuts a bridge, tunnel, expressway or turnpike away. At the grand opening on Monday, employees there gave away 7,000 free sandwiches and 3,500 free Slurpee samples.

"Everyone in my office is talking about it; they're all from New York," said Karen MacKenzie, a young woman in big sunglasses who was carrying a petite Mountain Dew-and-berry-flavored Slurpee two days later, after some of the hubbub had died down.

Ms. MacKenzie, who comes from Michigan, is well acquainted with the stores, but said her co-workers had visited them only on road trips out of town. For her part, she prefers the new store to her hometown version; the food seems fresher, she said, adding, "I would never eat at a 7-Eleven in Michigan."

Jimmy Solanki, the store's owner, said other city dwellers had recognized the business from their suburban pasts. "They're excited, because a lot of people, where they lived, they had 7-Eleven, a lot of people, where they grew up, they had 7-Eleven." Besides, said Mr. Solanki, who owns another 7-Eleven franchise in New Jersey, serving New Yorkers is not much different from serving people anywhere else.

"We're all humans here, we're still people," he said. "We're just caught up in the everyday routine."

And of course, the suburban convenience store is not so different from its city cousin, the corner bodega - and Manhattanites know all about bodegas. Still, there was an undeniable buzz in the air last week, as afternoon customers streamed out toting Slurpees in all flavor combinations and hues.

"Since they opened, we've been here every day," said Mike Washington, who lives in Queens but works in the neighborhood. It happens whenever a new place to buy food opens, he said; people flock to it, then of the place and move on. But this time, he believes, is different. "I don't think that'll happen with 7-Eleven," Mr. Washington said. "They have everything."

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/07/17/nyregion/17elev_lg.jpg

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

pianoman11686
July 18th, 2005, 12:50 AM
It's interesting that even here, in a place that is known for not much more than its coffee and slurpees, people are drawn to it because of how it reminds them of home, and of suburbia. This is the same reaction guaged from the patrons of the Applebee's and TGI Friday's, etc. I also find it interesting that the author, while mentioning "the bodega," didn't get reactions from any of the neighboring bodega owners and make a case about how they might lose a lot of local business.

miyom
July 19th, 2005, 04:22 AM
Makes me sick.
i can't explain it but I feel physically ill after reading that, too. I hope that people recognize their power and, like was suggested, not support these sort of developments.

i gotta get there quick before there is nothing left to get to.

pianoman11686
June 22nd, 2006, 04:10 PM
Out of all the chains invading New York, this has got to be the most disturbing:

PIZZA WARS HEAT UP

By MARK BULLIET and LUKAS I. ALPERT

June 22, 2006 -- Domino's and Papa John's are trying to grab a piece of the New York pizza pie.

More national chains have been popping up in the Big Apple as they try to do to the mom-and-pop pizza parlor what Home Depot and Lowe's have done to neighborhood hardware stores.

"In the last two years, I have seen a difference, probably 10 percent," said Dominick Abitino, 38, whose family runs four Abitino's pizzerias in Manhattan. "It's mostly Domino's that eats into it."

He added proudly, "We make all of our stuff on premises. We use high-end products. It's a family business. We don't do mass production in a plant and ship it out like those chains."

And New Yorkers' discerning palates can certainly taste the difference between the zesty sauces made by the local pizzerias and the glop slopped on by the cookie-cutter chains.

"New Yorkers know - and demand - great pizza, and the chains simply don't offer that," said Adam Kuban, publisher of the cheese-and-sauce-obsessed Web site SliceNY.com. "Independent pizzerias continue to thrive here, and the number of them, in my observation, has grown faster than that of the chains."

And while the mega-chains may offer good deals, the taste buds of New Yorkers aren't easily swayed.

"It's not the same. It's almost like pre-made pizza," said Gerard Muscianesi, of Manalapan, N.J., as he chowed down on at the famous John's Pizza on Bleecker Street in the Village. "New York pizza is still the best."

While the major chains have seen growth in the Big Apple, there are still only 36 Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's and Sbarro's franchises combined in Manhattan - compared with more than 500 independent pizzerias.

mark.bulliet@nypost.com

Copyright 2006 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

antinimby
June 22nd, 2006, 05:30 PM
Simple solution: don't complain about the chain stores, just DON'T BUY FROM THEM!

Schadenfrau
June 22nd, 2006, 06:28 PM
Or, you could always do both.

Ninjahedge
June 23rd, 2006, 08:49 AM
Johns on Bleeker and Joes nearby are the best.

I am (sorry) dissapointed with Abatinos on the corner where Joe's second store was, but that is me.

I can't figure out how Dominos can even survive in areas liek NY and NJ where pizza is as common as water.

My home town, only about 20K people in total, had 6 family owned pizzareas. 4 long term. And they all did well.

(Unfortunately, they did not have any cultural food, like Chinese or Indian worth a damn, but that is changing).

As for chains in general... I try not to shop at DR or any of the other bigguns, and I also do not like the TGI-F-Houlihans-Bennigans-Ruby Tuesdays-Chilis-Unos-ad nauseam but they have their loyal followers.....

Hopefully NY will keep most of its local "flavor", otherwise, what is the point in living in such a crowded, expensive, loud congested area?

antinimby
June 23rd, 2006, 08:56 AM
NY area demographics changing, perhaps?
The new faces are notoriously addicted to their suburban chain stores, so why not pizza as well?

Ninjahedge
June 23rd, 2006, 09:06 AM
NY area demographics changing, perhaps?
The new faces are notoriously addicted to their suburban chain stores, so why not pizza as well?

I kind of knew that... I would rather feign ignorance of the dilution of culture and go on than to acnowledge that everytheing will be a "medium beige" by the time it is all done.

Ragu on your Spagetti?

pianoman11686
June 23rd, 2006, 09:15 AM
My home town, only about 20K people in total, had 6 family owned pizzareas. 4 long term. And they all did well.


I was once taken to a pizzeria in Hoboken, which had probably the biggest slices I've ever seen (although there's one right by Columbia that may give it a run for its money). The pizza was fantastic, and I remember it was on one of the main north-south streets in Hoboken. Ever been there (or even know what I'm talking about)?

lofter1
June 23rd, 2006, 10:23 AM
A DAVE & BUSTERS (http://daveandbusters.com/?f=1) has opened in the space formerly occupied by a food-court upstairs in the AMC 25 building on W. 42nd (between B'way / 8th Ave. -- nearby the Applebee's :confused: ).

Very odd to my eyes -- but definitely an improvement over what was a horrid space before.

NYatKNIGHT
June 23rd, 2006, 05:12 PM
Related thread:
The Best New York Pizza (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2911)

Ninjahedge
June 24th, 2006, 05:19 PM
I was once taken to a pizzeria in Hoboken, which had probably the biggest slices I've ever seen (although there's one right by Columbia that may give it a run for its money). The pizza was fantastic, and I remember it was on one of the main north-south streets in Hoboken. Ever been there (or even know what I'm talking about)?

K, i know what you were talking about, but I did not grow up in Hoboken, I was in a suburb out in Western Bergen County. Small place with a very small town center, but yet there were, at the very least, 4 pizzareas there.

The place you are talking about in Hoboken is probably Benny Tudinos. Very good stuff. There are about a dozen places in Hoboken that are worth going to, each with their own specialty. I would not recommend going to the few places closest to the downtown bars though.

One warning, 7 star, worst I have ever tasted.

If you want to know of a few more places to eat there, lemme know. They have quite a bit to offer!

MikeW
June 25th, 2006, 12:59 AM
This might not be a bad thing, in a reverse way. If the chain places don't do business in New York, maybe they'll try to figure out why. If they improve their offerings to the point they're acceptable here, and export them, maybe we'll be of service to the rest of the country.

But I'm not holding my breath.

pianoman11686
June 25th, 2006, 12:40 PM
Personally, I think it works the other way. Chain places will keep undercutting local competitors and win over new customers by simply saving them money. Why else would anyone ever order Domino's in New York?

lofter1
June 26th, 2006, 07:07 PM
Why else would anyone ever order Domino's in New York?
Drunk?

pianoman11686
June 26th, 2006, 08:18 PM
It's not something I can say I've never done outside New York, but I guess that's different. However, just this past Friday, a bunch of friends and I were in dire need of a pie around 2 am. Someone suggested Domino's, and I was still in a clear enough state of mind to forcefully object. Turns out the place was closed already, and we ordered from a local pizzeria.

BPC
June 27th, 2006, 12:33 PM
New Yorkers can be very snobby about chain restaurants, and for good reason -- our dining options here are infinitely superior to the chains. That being said, the chains are not without their charms. Here are my favorites and least favorites:

BEST:

Chipotle -- damn fine burritos (much better than local chain Burritoville)

Cosi's -- superb sandwiches, but some of the stores are a bit of a scene

Krispy Kreme -- far better than George's in Harlem, supposedly NYC's best donut (actually, it may have shut down)


WORST:

Applebee's (horrid location in BPC; no better elsewhere)

Au Bon Pain (not sure how you can mess up a sandwich, but they do)

Starbucks -- I only drink the plain coffee, not the froo-froo stuff, but their house blend is horrid. Any deli in NYC will serve you a better cup, as will Dunkin Donuts, as will ABP (OK, they can do one thing right)

Luca
June 28th, 2006, 02:36 AM
Starbucks -- I only drink the plain coffee, not the froo-froo stuff, but their house blend is horrid. Any deli in NYC will serve you a better cup, as will Dunkin Donuts, as will ABP (OK, they can do one thing right)

Dunno what you consdier 'frou-frou', but where the plain-deal espresso is concerned Starbucks is definitely better than most of the independents I've tried (other that Italy, OBVIOUSLY). Basically espresso outside Italy has a pre- and post-Starbucks era.

megara441
June 28th, 2006, 06:28 AM
I can read that you don't like chain restaurants. I love Red Lobster a lot. Can you tell me when it will open on Times Square?

I know that there are a lot of no name restaurants that are good too, but I really need my Shrimpfeast there ;-)

Gabi

ablarc
June 28th, 2006, 07:08 AM
http://direct.where2getit.com/redlobster2/geoproc.cgi/redlobster2?action=fieldquery&qfield=BusinessID&qvalue=6298&country=US&dist=3.10%20miles&addr=&place=new%20york&state=ny&zip=

megara441
June 28th, 2006, 07:49 AM
Thank you, I know that restaurant locator but when I wrote NYC Manhattan in it it said that there are no restaurant in that area.

Thanks!!!!

Gaib

Ninjahedge
June 28th, 2006, 08:49 AM
Red Lobster on 7th and 41st 1 block from the port authority right next to the subway stair.

Look for the 7' tall giant illuminated plastic "Red Lobster" on the corner.

pianoman11686
June 28th, 2006, 09:44 AM
If you like Red Lobster, but don't mind spending a little more money, I think you'll get much better seafood at McCormick & Schmick's. It's a smaller chain of seafood restaurants in the US. Their Manhattan location is on 52nd and 6th Ave, I believe.

BPC
June 28th, 2006, 11:13 AM
Dunno what you consdier 'frou-frou', but where the plain-deal espresso is concerned Starbucks is definitely better than most of the independents I've tried (other that Italy, OBVIOUSLY). Basically espresso outside Italy has a pre- and post-Starbucks era.

I don't drink expresso, so I have no idea as to what's good or bad. My Starbucks comment was limited to their plain coffee, which I understand that no one but me actually buys at Starbucks.

Ninjahedge
June 28th, 2006, 11:16 AM
I found that if you get their plain cofee, and then run over to the fixings table, unscrew the chocolate shaker and dump a ton in there, you get a pretty good mocha for about 1/3 the price...

I experimented a bit w/that when I was at college in cali. Large Mocha for $1.05. Can't beat THAT! ;)

MikeW
June 28th, 2006, 02:24 PM
I get the regular coffee, but only in cold weather. When it's warm, I get the regular iced coffee. I have been know to get a cappucino.


I don't drink expresso, so I have no idea as to what's good or bad. My Starbucks comment was limited to their plain coffee, which I understand that no one but me actually buys at Starbucks.

BRT
July 5th, 2006, 11:42 AM
One benefit to the proliferation Starbucks, if no others -- clean public restrooms!

kurokevin
July 5th, 2006, 01:54 PM
The coffee at Charbucks is among the worst I've ever tasted. You are much better off grabbin' your java from the nice men and women who sit in curbside carts all morning serving us grumpy New Yorkers.

I'm glad to see that the Jamba Juice near me (Sheridan Square) quickly shut down after only a few months in operation. You never see that sort of corperate blunder anywhere else but in New York.

Hof
July 5th, 2006, 02:31 PM
I kind of knew that... I would rather feign ignorance of the dilution of culture and go on than to acnowledge that everytheing will be a "medium beige" by the time it is all done.

Ragu on your Spagetti?


I suppose you could win the argument that RAGU Spaghetti Sauce is too homogenized--too beige--for the connoisseur of all things Italian to bother with,but the source of the sauce is rooted in genuine,New York 19th-Century immigrant Italian authenticity.

Ragu--the name MEANS sauce in Italian--was begun in Rochester in the late 1800's.
I don't remember names or times (the Tacone family,maybe??) but having grown up in Rochester I'm conversant with the story,a typical secret-ingredient,Mama's recipe,food-related success story of which Rochester has many.

...A family in Rochester's heavily Italicized East Side drew huge praise from anyone who tasted their homemade red sauce,a recipe brought over on the Boat and perfected by Mama.They opened a small restaurant so more could enjoy it,and everyone who ate there clamored for the sauce.To appease a strong local demand the family began preparing and bottling it for local consumption,operating out of their home and restaurant.
It may have been the first Fast Food,a genuine,tasty Marinara sauce you could just buy and heat up,instead of laboriously preparing one from scratch.
People in Rochester,like my Dad,would drive a dozen miles across town to buy a jar.Today,it would be regarded as a "botique" item.

Demand spread and grew,so eventually a factory/kitchen was built on E Main Street,and the product went out to an even broader audience.As the 20th Century reached it's maturity,Ragu was THE sauce for those who didn't want to make one from scratch,and in the late '60s the name leapt from it's Regional status,burst out of the Northeast and went nationwide.
I remember my surprise on seeing a Ragu display in a Dallas Piggly Wiggly.I checked the label just to be sure it was the same stuff...."Proudly made in Rochester,New York" ,it said on the label.

It did taste like the real thing.It was acidy from the fresh tomatoes--it even had actual lumps of tomato in the jar;the olive oil would boil to the surface when you heated it up,and the steamy odor of fresh garlic would permeate your house.It was what you put on pasta.It was good.
A bottle of Ragu,a little Red and a brick of fresh Parmesian,you were enjoying your at-home pasta in a seaside Napolitano bistro of the mind.
Actual Italians would praise the sauce as authentic,a pretty solid endorsement.
"Ragu--now THAT"S Italian" was their catchphrase.

Eventually,as is the case with nearly ALL successful foodstuffs,the company was sold by the family and it became a corporate thing.To appeal to a mature national market with varying taste,the original recipe was immediately changed in order to capture a bigger market share,losing the acidy bite that Mama intended and gaining a lot of sugar and chemicals.

We in Rochester remember when Ragu changed,and it was a real downer to see what corporate chefs can do to a good,local product.The feeling around town was that we had lost OUR special sauce.

Finally,sometime in the late '70s,the Rochester plant was closed and production went elsewhere,brewed up in regional Corporate kitchens somewhere.
Although I grew up on Ragu,it's now a product I won't touch.

But it IS originally from New York,and it once was an authentic tiny,Mama-and-Papa neighborhood operation,something no one would ever think of (in those small-time days) as a national franchise.
Today,it's "ragu" in name only.

BPC
July 5th, 2006, 02:34 PM
There was also a recent Q&A in the NYT City Section explaining that Chef Boyardee himself also had NYC roots. If I recall correctly, he was a chef at the Plaza Hotel. I still prefer Franco-American, however.

Ninjahedge
July 5th, 2006, 03:35 PM
I suppose you could win the argument that RAGU Spaghetti Sauce is too homogenized--too beige--for the connoisseur of all things Italian to bother with,but the source of the sauce is rooted in genuine,New York 19th-Century immigrant Italian authenticity.

It has tomatoes, I will grant you that.

But since when has HF Corn Syrup been an Italian Tradition?


Ragu--the name MEANS sauce in Italian--was begun in Rochester in the late 1800's.

That's great. I could name my company "moneymaker" in yiddish, but that does not mean that it will be any better than any other place. ;)


Eventually,as is the case with nearly ALL successful foodstuffs,the company was sold by the family and it became a corporate thing.To appeal to a mature national market with varying taste,the original recipe was immediately changed in order to capture a bigger market share,losing the acidy bite that Mama intended and gaining a lot of sugar and chemicals.

And that is my point.

"Mama" died and was replaced by a C.E.O. that liked to be CALLED Mama.


We in Rochester remember when Ragu changed,and it was a real downer to see what corporate chefs can do to a good,local product.The feeling around town was that we had lost OUR special sauce.

Finally,sometime in the late '70s,the Rochester plant was closed and production went elsewhere,brewed up in regional Corporate kitchens somewhere.
Although I grew up on Ragu,it's now a product I won't touch.

But it IS originally from New York,and it once was an authentic tiny,Mama-and-Papa neighborhood operation,something no one would ever think of (in those small-time days) as a national franchise.
Today,it's "ragu" in name only.

:(

Ninjahedge
July 5th, 2006, 03:44 PM
They had a bit on the History Channel about a bunch of tehse places. I was retching at the mention of their names, however.

Pizza Hut and Dominos.

I have to admit, these guys really had a great buisness model, and between the delivery of Dominoes, and the appearance of a fast food favorite with Pizza Hut, they really made good no their buisness.

But they STARTED in Kentucky (I believe) and some otehr mid-western state with about 5 minutes of pizza mking "training".

They made the American Pizza Pie, which only bore a slight resemblance to the real thing, with an over sweetened plain ketchup-like sauce, a pitiful crust that is now mass produced and cooked in a high velocity convection jet oven, and all the mediocre toppings you can shake a stick of beef jerkey at.

The only advantage is that you do, indeed, get the same thing no matter where you go. The sad SAD part is that it IS better than many of the pizza places I have been to across the country.

Which also brings up the hysterical oxymoronic franchise California Pizza Kitchen. Cali was NEVER a pizza haven, and why these stores are even the slightest bit sucessful here in the suburban malls is beyond me. It is like Arizona Lobster company, or Wisconsin Thai. You just should not do that!

pianoman11686
July 5th, 2006, 04:00 PM
Well, Taco Bell does have a Mexican version of a pizza on its menu, or so I remember. There's also a chain called Maui Tacos that I've seen at some airports recently. And I once ate at a chain seafood restaurant (albeit fairly good) that got its start in Minneapolis, of all places. I don't think California Pizza Kitchen is that unusual. Pizza is commonplace enough, and if they do in fact put a spin on it by using fresh ingredients (and adding some traditionally "Californian" flavors to it), then more power to 'em. Just stay out of New York City, and other places that have authentic Italian pizza.

MikeW
July 5th, 2006, 04:16 PM
What about NYC bred chains? What do you think about all the Baluchi'ses, Lemongrasses, EJ'ses, Harus, etc.. If someone comes up with local neighborhood place that works, they then spam it out to other neighborhoods (and then out to the 'Burbs). Does this raise your 'chain restaurant' eyr?

Ninjahedge
July 5th, 2006, 04:45 PM
Well, Taco Bell does have a Mexican version of a pizza on its menu, or so I remember. There's also a chain called Maui Tacos that I've seen at some airports recently. And I once ate at a chain seafood restaurant (albeit fairly good) that got its start in Minneapolis, of all places. I don't think California Pizza Kitchen is that unusual. Pizza is commonplace enough, and if they do in fact put a spin on it by using fresh ingredients (and adding some traditionally "Californian" flavors to it), then more power to 'em. Just stay out of New York City, and other places that have authentic Italian pizza.


Have you eaten true californian pizza?

I have, at school and at a temp job.

It SUX!!! OMG!!!!

So seeing that is like Arizona Lobster. Yes they may have it, and yes they may have some good stuff if you are willing to pay, but I would rather have "Maine lobster" and "Chicago" or "NY" Pizza. (Actually, Jersey Shore Pizza is good too!)

Ninjahedge
July 5th, 2006, 04:47 PM
What about NYC bred chains? What do you thing about all the Baluchi'ses, Lemongrasses, EJ'ses, Harus, etc.. If someone comes up with local neighborhood place that works, they then spam it out to other neighborhoods (and then out to the 'Burbs). Does this raise your 'chain restaurant' eyr?

Yes.

lofter1
July 5th, 2006, 05:34 PM
"California Pizza" should probably be credited to Wolfgang Puck at Spago -- where undoubtedly it is done right, unlike many of the knock-offs that now proliferate.

The LA Weekly on Pizza (http://www.laweekly.com/index.php?option=com_lsd&task=food&attr=Pizzeria&Itemid=110) in LA

BPC
July 5th, 2006, 05:37 PM
There's also a chain called Maui Tacos that I've seen at some airports recently.

Hawaii has a sizable old Puerto Rican population. Not sure whether tacos are native to Puerto Rico like Mexico, but if so that may be the source.

Ninjahedge
July 6th, 2006, 08:44 AM
"California Pizza" should probably be credited to Wolfgang Puck at Spago -- where undoubtedly it is done right, unlike many of the knock-offs that now proliferate.

The LA Weekly on Pizza (http://www.laweekly.com/index.php?option=com_lsd&task=food&attr=Pizzeria&Itemid=110) in LA

They had a Pucks in Hoboken a while back, it did not do too well. It was in an OK area, but I was never really impressed with the fusion they were trying for (A sort of 'Le McDonalds', if you will). A fast food/sit down hybrid that was never really that good.

The problem we find in most of these places is that as easy as it may be, making a uniformly good tasting menu that is the same everywhere is a difficult task. All have failed/fallen to the mediocre level and find it hard to compete with places that are just plain cheaper....

You wonder why these places have not smartened up a bit and allowed a basic uniform menu with local "specialties" that the chef can create and serve on their own. Stick to the burgers, simple chicken dishes and whatnot for the general public, but if you have a short order cook that is good with breakfast vittles, offer that extended brunch. You have a guy that can make a good paninni, go for it. Otherwise, don't make these blah imitations of all these tasty foods.

peterd
July 14th, 2006, 10:21 AM
What about NYC bred chains? What do you think about all the Baluchi'ses, Lemongrasses, EJ'ses, Harus, etc.. If someone comes up with local neighborhood place that works, they then spam it out to other neighborhoods (and then out to the 'Burbs). Does this raise your 'chain restaurant' eyr?


TGI Friday's is a NYC-bred chain, too:

ttp://fridays.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=partners

MikeW
July 14th, 2006, 11:16 AM
I remember the original Friday's (on 1st Ave). You would think the franchise would have bought it and kept it going.

FWIW, someone tried to franchise PJ Clark's. I saw one out on the Island. It didn't make it.


TGI Friday's is a NYC-bred chain, too:

ttp://fridays.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=partners