Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

There Is A Lot To Be Said For Dependability–Especially In Restaurants

Putting on the old feedbag!A franchise retaurant operates in accordance with methods, procedures, decor, menu and other standards prescribed by the franchisor, and the franchisor assists the franchisee through training, market research, set-up, advertising and other advisory services. An independent restaurant has no such agreement and is solely managed by the person or group that owns it. Some independent restaurants have multiple locations, usually in the same city or region, but are not part of a franchise.

All of us are familiar with franchise snack food and fast food (like the one you are thinking about that has 31,000 outlets throughout the world), and most of us eat occasionally or regularly at casual to upscale sit-down franchise restaurants. I have friends who refuse to eat at a franchise restaurant unless there is absolutely no other choice, and other friends who avoid independent restaurants unless they are very confident about the food preparation and overall restaurant cleanliness or about the price or comfort levels.

Most of us appreciate franchise restaurants for their dependability and ease of decision-making. (We know what food quality, menu items and price to expect at most franchise restaurants, but not at The Korner Kafe or Le Bleu Belle.) Although, for many of us, our truly favorite restaurants, from casual to elegant, are independently owned and are unique, invariably excellent, and places we look forward to visiting. Sadly, those tend to come and go, so our favorite restaurant may be closed the next time we visit!

Recently someone compared himself professionally to a fine independent restaurant surrounded by mediocre fast food franchises. The analogy was too extreme–although I did agree that he is not as dependably good as a solid franchise restaurant would be! However, the most important part of the conversation was that it allowed me to concentrate on food! Thus, I meditated on my unordered list of favorite sit-down franchise restaurants.

  1. The Elephant Bar Restaurant. I like their large menu–especially the salads–and decor. It is a good date restaurant, but I tend to avoid it for weekend lunch dining. Children seem to not be able to resist putting on the little paper animal masks and making growling sounds. Grrrr. (I wish we had a Trader Vic’s here–similar concept but a lot of history as well, and more elegant.)
  2. Genghis Grill. Mongolian Stir-Fry. Similar to B.D.’s Monogolian Barbeque. I love this kind of food, and the volume at these restaurants usually ensures the ingredients are very fresh.
  3. P.F. Chang’s. Upscale with dependably very good food. I prefer to eat Oriental food at The Imperial, an excellent independent restaurant on South Broadway, in Denver. But, I know if I go to P.F. Chang’s I’ll have a very good time.
  4. Sweet Tomatoes. A salad-buffet restaurant. It has continually refreshed salad makings, and the various buffet options are excellent. This chain started as Souplantation and still has some restaurants with that name. With a name like that, where do you think it began? You are correct–San Diego!
  5. Hops Restaurant and Brewery.  When I get those honey-drizzled croissants I am happy! They have a good American menu overall and excellent key lime pie. I also get their root beer now and then–but it is not as good as A&W!
  6. Steak and Ale. Dependably good food and I like both the food and setting better than the other franchise steakhouses. I prefer the prime rib to the steak, and I enjoy their salads.
  7. Uno Chicago Grill. They have a good menu that goes past pizza–although I do love their pizza! They also have new healthier options as well.
  8. Mimi’s Cafe. I enjoy the menu options, but I avoid it on weekends. Portions are large, as they tend to be in many places nowadays–so I can take some home if I have it packed it up before I nibble it away!
  9. The Village Inn Pancake House or International House of Pancakes. I love breakfast, any time of day! I live near the Arapahoe County airport, outside of Denver, so I can eat at The Perfect Landing–which has a spectacular breakfast and a fun view of the small airport landing field, with the mountains in the distance. But, they do not have pancakes as good as the VI or IHOP! (I have eaten hundreds–maybe thousands–of Grand Slam breakfasts at Denny’s, which is why I would have to be forced to go there now!)
  10. Bonefish Grill. This is very, very good for fish, crabcakes, steak or salad, and is nice for a date. McCormick and Schmick’s is also very good, but more expensive. I also like Pappadeaux, but prefer the overall setting at the Bonefish.

So, where would you like to go eat? While you are thinking about that, consider this as well: If you were a restaurant, what type would you be? (That sounds like something asked on The Newlywed Game or in a bizarre job interview!)

April 20th, 2008 Posted by | Food, Fitness, Fun, Life and Work | 8 comments


  1. I can’t believe you left out Hooters! It has great food and the decor is gorgeous. And don’t try to tell me you don’t like it because you mentioned in class that it is one of your favorite places. It has to be better than the VI! Mike

    Comment by Mike B. | April 20, 2008

  2. I DO like Hooters for the wings, but I do not consider them to be in the same category as those in the post: Casual to upscale sit-down dining. As for the decor…I’m not sure we are talking about the same concept! 🙂

    I find some of the men in the restaurant to be grossly obnoxious in the way they behave toward the waitresses. But, I assume the waitresses realized the attention they would attract when they applied for the job.

    RE: Comparing Hooters to the Village Inn. I doubt that anything at Hooters fits the description of a pancake.

    Thank you for the comment, Mike. I think. Tina

    Comment by Tina | April 20, 2008

  3. Hi Tina! Thanks for the awesome comment on my blog. You are always so encouraging. I love all of these restaurants. We should have a lunch with Shannon one of these days.

    Comment by Judith Thomas | April 20, 2008

  4. Well, Judith, there is an Uno Chicago Grill near you. I’ll set something up for after Shannon comes back!

    Thanks for reading! Tina

    Comment by Tina | April 20, 2008

  5. Is Gunther Toody’s a franchise? I love it! D.

    Comment by denisek | April 21, 2008

  6. I just researched it, and yes, it is now franchising. There is a Gunther Toody’s in Tennessee. Up until that one, the other restaurants were owned by the corporation and all in Colorado. I really like Gunther Toody’s too–but mostly for breakfast anymore. If I order other food I cannot seem to control my appetite enough to be sensible. I love their chicken friend steak, meat loaf, hamburgers and onion rings,…well, the whole menu!

    My favorite new restaurant for hamburgers is Smashburger! There is one on Arapahoe Road and one on South Colorado Blvd. Probably other places too. Huge and great hamburgers and really, really good french fries! Expensive, but worth it to me now and then.

    Thanks for the idea, Denise! I think I’ll visit GT’s this week! T.

    Comment by Tina | April 21, 2008

  7. Hello Tina! We haven’t met, but our mutual friend, Gretchen, send me this link. I’ve looked at the site every day for the last several weeks and always find something new to enjoy. But today I am horrified to realize you do not have Red Robin listed among your favorite full-service franchise restaurants!

    Have you ever tried their onion rings? Malts? Hamburgers? Salads? Balloons for the kiddies?

    On your recommendation I am going to Bonefish Grill the next time I get a chance and will report back to you about it.It had better be good to take the place of Red Robin! Thanks for the fun post and for your other many good articles. I don’t comment but I do read them. Mark W. Burbank, CA

    Comment by Mark Woods | April 21, 2008

  8. Thank you for commenting Mark! I was thinking about the balloons for kiddies when I left Red Robin off my list!

    Actually, that would have been a great one to include, because I do enjoy it. But, it is uusally very crowded and it isn’t as much a favorite as the others. It would have been #11 though!

    Let me know how you like Bonefish! Please comment again. I get lonely! Tina

    Comment by Tina | April 21, 2008

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