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Why is most of the U.S. turning into character-less chain restaurants and cookie cutter suburbs?


Plastic restaurants are cheaper to build and the food is cheaper to produce (check out the menu to see what I mean).

"McMansions" are going up all over Southern Calif. Cheaper to build, quick & easy to sell. People want to live here but not "in town" so the hills around LA are being invaded by "Pretty Boxes" 10 feet apart, and they are selling. Who cares about 10,00 homes all alike, jammed together, as long as they sell, and they will. The American Dream of owning a home drives most, if not all, these people to buy these boxes.

It's all about PROFIT. Make the bottom line as large as possible, but stay (barely) legal. Quality is second, or third on the list.

Mikld is right, of course. It IS all about money.

The reason for all those <YAWN> chain restaurants – the Fridays, the Chilis, the Olive Gardens, and all their brethren – is reduced financial risk. Opening a one-of-a-kind restaurant is risky business. Just keep an eye on the fortunes of unique, personalized restaurants in most ‘Burbs. Amazing how many of them fold their tents within two or three years, even when they had considerable charm and great food, and even in affluent areas.

Compared with Independent operators, the big Chain restaurants have huge advantages, based on Formula and Finances.

The Formula can be seen in their architectural appearance (every Olive Garden looks much the same as every other Olive Garden); the internal layout; the menu; the wine list; their staff training; the entire managerial handbook. All cookie cutter. The Formula was developed over a period of years to produce results that are predictable in terms of customer satisfaction and (more important) shareholder satisfaction. Not exciting, but not risky.

Finances benefit largely from Formula too. Once you have the “right” Formula, you keep on repeating it. No learning curve in the start up costs for a new outlet in your chain. Huge $ saving versus the Independents, and absolutely no risk.

But beyond that, with their identical menus and wine lists, the Chains can buy their supplies in bulk at significant discounts vs. the Independents, just like Wal-Mart vs. the Mom and Pop store. And, if there’s a localized recession in the vicinity, the Chain restaurants have the financial backing to ride out the slowdown in business: sure, the manager will get fired for failing to meet budget; but that Chilis will stay open. By contrast, Louie’s Crab & Linguine Lounge will be gone within 6 months.

Thankfully, despite the odds being so stacked against them, the Independents won’t disappear altogether. Despite all the risks, owning and running a personalized restaurant is still a dream for talented, creative people.

As individuals, we may not be quite up to winning the War on Terrorism, reversing Global Warming, or finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. But we can, as individuals, fight dining boredom. Next time you go out for a bite, don’t follow the Lemmings into Applebees. Head over to Louie’s while he’s still serving that heavenly crab and linguine. That way, he may be around for a while longer.

Money. It's a product of urban sprawl and the people behind it are uber rich, obviously, and seeking to turn an even bigger profit.

However, if you go into most cities, you will still find many unique and quaint independently owned restaurants.

I know what you mean, the same chains over and over and homes that all look the same. I think its because people need to feel here esp in an uncertain world, with a president thats not really working for them but against. At least something remains the same and comfortable.

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