An Open Letter to Chili’s Bar & Grill (and the like)
Many national family restaurant chains have been rebranding their image and judging from the results, you don’t care. But I do. “Fresh now?” Hey Chili’s, why don’t you give it a rest and throw a whole onion in the deep fryer and stop pretending you’re something you’re not? “Good food. Good times. Handcrafted daily?” You expect us to believe that, TGI Fridays? If you’re going to lie, make it believable: Why not start with “opened from a frozen bag weekly,” first? “Applebee’s neighborhood bar and grill?” That’s not a neighborhood. That’s the black mall that all the rich white people abandoned for one of those outdoor Westfield Shopping Towns. And the list goes on. When I was a kid, Chili’s was my favorite restaurant to go to that was not within the walls of Walt Disney World. Back then, dining was an event. A special occasion. Getting my parents to part with their “hard-earned cash” was no small feat. Unless it was on vacations to Paris that I couldn’t come on and jet skis I wasn’t allowed to ride. Sharing a giant appetizer was a bonding experience for my family. Being abusive and condescending to a smiley waiter was the highlight of our week. Thinking of reasons to deduct money from a 15% tip was an adventure! Because it was the eighties and we were all on coke! But I digress. Chili’s, I know your business has seen a steady decline since your heyday in the 90’s, but if you think this is going to save you, I have bad news: people don’t go to you for modern decor and creative menu options. We love you for your big, cushy booths, unhealthy portions of greasy, fried comfort food and most importantly, lots of crazy crap on the walls! Nobody wants you cozying up to the foodie crowd, least of all, the foodie crowd. You’re never going to have more than 2 stars from the overly-earnest career Yelpers. But that’s OK. I refuse to believe their is no room left in the overcrowded restaurant market for your patented brand of Good Times©! To my readers, you’re probably too hip to have been to a Chili’s or a Fridays lately, so I will drop this bombshell on you: gone are the crazy road signs, phone booths, cut in half bicycles sticking out of the wall at a 90 degree angle, sombreros or even the odd alligator wearing sunglasses. I don’t think Fridays even has a white and red awning anymore! And all those framed pictures of chili? Gone and replaced by an iPad you can watch commercials for Chili’s on while you pay your bill. And pieces of flair? The little pins and tchotchkes immortalized in the movie Office Space? All gone! But who cares what the server is wearing, right? Because you’re gonna order and pay on your stupid iPad anyway! If this is the future, then then the future sucks. Everybody complains about no hoverboards, no flying cars and no virtual reality sex machines where you can live out any fantasy in the comfort and safety of your own home, away from the judging eyes of your girlfriend, Lindsay. But I didn’t read any books by Asimov that said anything about living in a time with no big leather booths where an overly enthusiastic youngster in a tacky outfit brings me mug after mug of cold, delicious soda and takes my order of cleverly-named, 3000 calorie-plus entries. Thanks, Obama.
P.S. If some sharp as a tack investor reads this and decides to cash in on this brilliant idea for real, you owe me half.
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