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The merits of chain dining in the Heartland


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I just noticed this Applebee's earnings report and thought it seemed like a good reason to bump this.

I would be encouraged that earnings are down, but I suspect it's probably not because fewer people are flocking to their stores.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I just noticed this Applebee's earnings report and thought it seemed like a good reason to bump this.

The link's not working for me...

U.E.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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  • 6 months later...

And now for something completely different....

Yeah, when I do something as mind-boggling as eating a meal at "Pizza Street", I'll admit it. It's for science.

We drove down to Powell Gardens this weekend for their annual Butterfly Festival (great day trip btw, I highly recommend it), and we were on Hwy 291 coming home when my girlfriend wanted to stop somewhere and get a quick bite. She saw a Fazoli's on the horizon and mentioned that, so I was scanning the hell out of the strip malls looking for something cheap that wasn't Fazoli's. I saw Pizza Street and wasn't sure what in the hell it was........"What in the hell is Pizza Street?" It must have sounded like "let's go with the devil I DON'T know this time around...say Fazoli's again and we're going to be on the six o'clock news", because the next thing I know I'm throwing down eleven bucks (including drinks!) for what the sign outside advertises as "Kansas City's Own" original pizza buffet.

Local chain? National chain? I have no idea. What I do know is they love hosting children's birthday parties. That's where the real blessings in life are.....McBirthday Parties. There were two major blowouts going on while we were there. Was it possible? Were they going to back a truck up to the door and unload leftover Chuck E. Cheese and Showbiz Pizza mechanical singing animals? It was not to be. If I were in charge of hosting a group of screaming children, it really would be the perfect place to go (unless I could talk the parents into a Clockwork Orange theme). You can be in and out of there as fast as you like, and the thirteen year olds running the place aren't going to hassle you if your angel decides to go Jackson Pollock on the ice cream machine. The cool thing is those big birthday groups eat really fast and get out of there. Maybe they dig the experience so much they want to hurry up and have some more kids. If you time them just right you can have one child to parallel each rung of the burger themed pizza and claw machine evolutionary ladder.

Anyway, as far as the food goes, it's a $3.99 all you can eat pizza buffet. But it doesn't stop there. All kidding aside, the pizza is better than something Domino's or Little Caesar's would bring to your door. Very similar to DiGiorno frozen pizza with less sauce. The good thing is it moves really quickly when there's a crowd, so there's always fresh pizza coming out of the oven. Fresh, hot Pizza Street Pizza. All the usual toppings, along with their signature pizzas like baked potato and cheeseburger. The cheeseburger pizza tastes EXACTLY like one of those little McDonalds cheeseburgers. Is that necessarily a good thing? Hell yes it is. The next time I'm getting towards the bottom of the second bottle of my cheap Torres Sangre de Toro and I've still got a couple hours left in my Boondocks DVD marathon, I'll be pining for that cheeseburger pizza like it was ol' Dean Moriarty. Other than that, the pastas make Fazoli's look like Lidia's, they have all those fruit flavored dessert pizzas, a small salad bar, and of course the ubiquitous ice cream machine with vanilla, chocolate, and........wait for it...........................vanilla and chocolate swirl.

If you're down to the change lurking in your seat cushions like we were this weekend, I'd say that Pizza Street is probably one of the greatest $3.99 bargains in that entire four block area of 291 Hwy. For $4.99 I think you can have one of the employees hold one of the screaming birthday party kids right next to your ear.

So head on down to Pizza Street, the king of all local chains.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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LOL!

Jerry, I've actually eaten at similar place in central Indiana, called East of Chicago Pizza Company, which is some sort of regional chain. It cost a bit more than $3.99/pp at Pizza Street but not much more. Savory pizza wasn't the only thing on their buffet either. There were a few 'submarine-type' sandwiches and some "dessert" pies too -- and there was a salad bar. Free refills on Pepsi products were available for those dining in.

Anyway, my son loves the place and it's very near his grandma's house, so we've been there a few times. I can't say I particularly enjoy it but it isn't terrible either. If there's something you want, you can just ask and they'll make it for you. Anyway, like you, I definitely thought it was better than the "major" chains but it's been so long since I've eaten at one I can't say that definitively.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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Having been clipped by toll roads passing through Chicagoland on my way to/from Ann Arbor, it'll be a l-o-n-g time before I have $3.99 change in my seat cushions to spring for lunch at Pizza Street. I'll try and remember to check it out, though, after such a resounding recommendation.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Yeah Ronnie, it's one of those places that is probably always packed but you'd be hard pressed to find someone who is truly happy to be there outside of the kids. I didn't happen to notice any high schools nearby, but for what it would cost teenagers to load up on pizza every single day I can see legislation on the horizon......"the adult stores next to the schools we can deal with.....but those pizza buffets have GOT TO GO!". Even cheaper and more dangerous than Mickey D's...... :biggrin:

One thing I forgot to mention as I was fishing for pop culture references to include in my original post was the conversation my girlfriend and I had about "buffet economics". We are both curious to find data on the profitability of giving people all the pizza they can eat for $3.99. Especially if it's a local vs. national chain, without access to a monstrous in-house supply chain a la McD's. It's not great food, but it's better than most delivery. They have to have pretty high overhead to rent that much strip mall space, they do have to pay employees, etc. It's obviously profitable, I'd just be extremely curious to see data on how much each pizza really costs, how much the average customer eats.........how exactly they come up with the magic number of $3.99.

I wouldn't be surprised to find out if ALL these clean new pizza buffets from coast to coast really were owned by McD's or WalMart, and every market just has its own brand.....Pizza Street in KC......(the hypothetical) Pizza Depot in Wichita, etc. All the exact same company, same pizza, with its own local identity.

I'm sure this has all been discussed into infinity on eGullet, just thinking out loud and too lazy to use the search function.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

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My eG Food Blog- 2011

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THe biggest dining news here in Tulsa over the weekend was the fact that Ruby Tuesday's is coming to town. We have been promised at least 6 of them over the next couple of years. This is not high on my personal excitement list though.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I kept thinking I had heard of Pizza Street before (just returned from swimming and it helped keep my mind off of the excruciating pain in my shoulder) . . . I finally remembered where: there's one on NE Englewood Rd (near North Oak Tfwy) quite near your home.

Driving by a similar place, CiCi's Pizza, recently, we had the same conversation about the economics of these. How the hell can they make money? I worked at pizza chain several light years ago and, at the time, our most expensive pie was a Supreme something (whatever was the latest, greatest crust option at the time). We sold it for around $13 and the raw product cost (exclusive of site, labor, etc) was around $1.20. Never mind the mark-up on sodas, etc. I think you're right, though. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they were all somehow related or at least sharing some kind of buying co-op to keep product cost down.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I know that Bama Pie Company here makes the crusts for about half of the Pizza huts and they make all the biscuits for McDonalds. THat cuts down on the payroll costs to the individual outlets if this product comes in already to go.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Pizza Street sounds like a street I want to live on, if it weren't for the kids. We don't have a pizza street here, in restaurant or an actual street. We do have a Fries street though, I've always thought it would be great to live there so you could say "I live on fries, and I don't get fat."

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I'm not (too) ashamed to admit that I have upon occasion dined at the local CiCi's Pizza. I'm partial to the spinach alfredo pizza, which is significant because before I discovered it at CiCi's, you couldn't pay me to eat spinach in any identifiable form.

After a few cracks at it, I've made my own version at home with homemade wheat crust, alfredo sauce, and chopped spinach, that my family likes even more.

And there is an actual (not hypothetical) Pizza Depot in Wichita about 4 blocks from my house, but it's a neighborhood pizza place owned by a kid in his twenties who makes pizzas using those rotating countertop pizza cookers -- 2 9-inch pies for $8. Good pizza, but he might need some help with his honey-whole wheat crust -- it just doesn't rise like it should. But we're hoping he's sucessful, because there just aren't many independent pizza operations.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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And now for something completely different....

Anyway, as far as the food goes, it's a $3.99 all you can eat pizza buffet.  But it doesn't stop there.  All kidding aside, the pizza is better than something Domino's or Little Caesar's would bring to your door. So head on down to Pizza Street, the king of all local chains.

Never give me crap about Joe's Crab Shack again, ever. Not that I've been there more than once. :wink:

I did go to our local PS, again once. My youngest liked their Chocolate Pudding Pizza. I didn't try that, and would hate to even try to describe it. Bluestem it ain't.

As many here know, my wife is a fan of the chains. She grew up in small town Kansas where Dairy Queen was about the only restaurant choice. Applebee's would have been considered fine dining worthy of a major anniversary. We've discussed the chain thing ad nauseam. She just does not want to take a chance on a bad meal. She wants safety, a fried chicken salad with honey mustard dressing (on the side to make sure its good). I try and push the envelope here at home and then get her to try new things. We dated almost a year before I could get her to venture into a Chinese Restaurant. But she really enjoyed Tatsu's, so there's hope. She's just wired differetly and when she spends money on food it has to be safe.

That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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We try to avoid chains when we can because we like to support the local guys and last week, we had to take an 88 year old relative to dinner. I racked my brains with my husband trying to think of a local place she might like but she said "Do you have Applebee's? Can you take me there?" You know, it would not have been my choice but sometimes, it makes no sense to argue about it. At 88 years old, if Applebee's makes her happy then Applebee's it is.

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We try to avoid chains when we can because we like to support the local guys and last week, we had to take an 88 year old relative to dinner.  I racked my brains with my husband trying to think of a local place she might like but she said "Do you have Applebee's?  Can you take me there?"  You know, it would not have been my choice but sometimes, it makes no sense to argue about it.  At 88 years old, if Applebee's makes her happy then Applebee's it is.

Welcome aboard, Jen. I've gotta agree with ya' :smile:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I think something that gets forgotten in discussions about chain restaurants is the fact that we didn't all grow up as gourmands. When I was kid (grew up in Overland Park), restaurants that have been throroughly skewered in this thread were special occasion dinners. We did many a New Year's Eve dinner at Red Lobster, I went out for prom at the Cheesecake Factory on the Plaza, and there were several yearly birthday dinners at the Olive Garden. My family is squarely middle class, so $100+ dinners for the four of us were a treat. It's funny, you know those commercials for the Olive Garden with the whole, "When you're here, you're family" thing? Those make me smile because I think of eating special dinners there with my family.

Now that I'm 25 and living on my own, I know that there are better eating options out there. In fact, I've got a list that just keeps growing of local restaurants to try. I enjoy finding new great places to eat on my meager dining out budget. But part of that is because I enjoy food as a hobby. So I'll take my SO to Tatsu's for a nice dinner instead of going to Applebee's, or check out 40 Sardines for my birthday, if I have the choice. But if I didn't care about food as a hobby, my choices would be different. And my preferences now don't make me think any less of people who don't make the same kinds of choices I do. I still enjoy eating at Red Lobster on Mom's birthday, or when my SO takes me for a nice dinner at the Olive Garden. Not an eye-rolling, grudging enjoyment either. I really enjoy those meals just as much as taking them someplace of my choosing.

To each his own.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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A couple of updates. . .

An article in the paper at the end of last week indicated Tyler Florence has been hired to ... well, do something (consult?) with the menu at Applebees. Stay tuned.

Another article in the local paper, a few weeks ago, sought suggestions and preferences for a particular restaurant to be the "anchor" for our in-progress river walk. I winced when they asked "which chain restaurant" people would want to see open a location there. I was pretty disappointed that chains were specified. This was at about the same time that Angelo's closed down.

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I'm not (too) ashamed to admit that I have upon occasion dined at the local CiCi's Pizza. I'm partial to the spinach alfredo pizza, which is significant because before I discovered it at CiCi's, you couldn't pay me to eat spinach in any identifiable form.

After a few cracks at it, I've made my own version at home with homemade wheat crust, alfredo sauce, and chopped spinach, that my family likes even more.

CiCi's buffet rules! (a little) :laugh: . The staff has always been friendly, they will make ANY pizza, on demand so if you want a piping hot, olive, pineapple, pepperoni taco pizza, it's yours. And their (almost) baked brownie dessert thing is chocolate excellence. Good salad bar selections too.

And for <$5 with beverage!

Thanks,

Kevin

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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A couple of updates. . .

An article in the paper at the end of last week indicated Tyler Florence has been hired to ... well, do something (consult?) with the menu at Applebees.  Stay tuned.

Another article in the local paper, a few weeks ago, sought suggestions and preferences for a particular restaurant to be the "anchor" for our in-progress river walk.  I winced when they asked "which chain restaurant" people would want to see open a location there.  I was pretty disappointed that chains were specified.  This was at about the same time that Angelo's closed down.

If they are chain minded, then go with it, go for one of the upper scale choices. that is unless they just want and need to have a cheesecake factory there. One thing to work with is to insist that the architecture of the building be in the spirit of the area. The downtown area of Wichita has some very nicely designed buildings of an older vintage that could be worked into the feel and atmosphere of what they are trying to achieve. Or am I shooting for the moon.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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A couple of updates. . .

An article in the paper at the end of last week indicated Tyler Florence has been hired to ... well, do something (consult?) with the menu at Applebees.  Stay tuned.

Another article in the local paper, a few weeks ago, sought suggestions and preferences for a particular restaurant to be the "anchor" for our in-progress river walk.  I winced when they asked "which chain restaurant" people would want to see open a location there.  I was pretty disappointed that chains were specified.  This was at about the same time that Angelo's closed down.

If they are chain minded, then go with it, go for one of the upper scale choices. that is unless they just want and need to have a cheesecake factory there. One thing to work with is to insist that the architecture of the building be in the spirit of the area. The downtown area of Wichita has some very nicely designed buildings of an older vintage that could be worked into the feel and atmosphere of what they are trying to achieve. Or am I shooting for the moon.

Sounds like this may be just the place to open a "T-Rex".....the dinosaur themed restaurant brought to you by the creators of Rainforest Cafe. Okay, I screw around a lot but I'm not making this up. T-Rex just opened in KCK as part of the mega-chain sprawl known as Village West. I believe we are the test market for the first one. Some friends of my family visited last week and reported a 30 minute wait to get a PAGER (two hour wait for a table). Again, not joking.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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A couple of updates. . .

An article in the paper at the end of last week indicated Tyler Florence has been hired to ... well, do something (consult?) with the menu at Applebees.  Stay tuned.

Another article in the local paper, a few weeks ago, sought suggestions and preferences for a particular restaurant to be the "anchor" for our in-progress river walk.  I winced when they asked "which chain restaurant" people would want to see open a location there.  I was pretty disappointed that chains were specified.  This was at about the same time that Angelo's closed down.

I can't remember the name of the first "anchor" restaurant that they've attracted to the Riverwalk development, but reading the words "mechanical bull" and "boot-shaped mugs" does not bode well for upscale dining in downtown Doodah.

Wichita's a really mixed-message place -- they want to close down Cowtown Historical Museum for lack of interest while trying to lure another cowboy-themed bar/restaurant to anchor their dining and entertainment development. I guess it's to target all that convention business they're hoping to attract.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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Sounds like this may be just the place to open a "T-Rex".....the dinosaur themed restaurant brought to you by the creators of Rainforest Cafe.  Okay, I screw around a lot but I'm not making this up.  T-Rex just opened in KCK as part of the mega-chain sprawl known as Village West.  I believe we are the test market for the first one.  Some friends of my family visited last week and reported a 30 minute wait to get a PAGER (two hour wait for a table).  Again, not joking.

We tried T-Rex two weeks ago on a Monday Night. They didn't say anything about waiting for a pager, but they did say the wait would be two hours. But there didn't seem to be a wait for the gift shop.

:blink: What? Stegosaurus steaks, Archyop-teriyaki breasts, and Brontosaurus burgers?

Seriously, what's on the menu? :unsure:

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Sounds like this may be just the place to open a "T-Rex".....the dinosaur themed restaurant brought to you by the creators of Rainforest Cafe.  Okay, I screw around a lot but I'm not making this up.  T-Rex just opened in KCK as part of the mega-chain sprawl known as Village West.  I believe we are the test market for the first one.  Some friends of my family visited last week and reported a 30 minute wait to get a PAGER (two hour wait for a table).  Again, not joking.

We tried T-Rex two weeks ago on a Monday Night. They didn't say anything about waiting for a pager, but they did say the wait would be two hours. But there didn't seem to be a wait for the gift shop.

:blink: What? Stegosaurus steaks, Archyop-teriyaki breasts, and Brontosaurus burgers?

Seriously, what's on the menu? :unsure:

u.e.

LOL! It takes 8 monthes to get a reso at El Bulli in Spain and our comparison in Kansas is a restaurant called T-Rex. That’s so sad. It really goes to show you people in this country care more about what their kids want than themselves. Too bad

Suck my T-Rex!

:laugh:

“Nobody can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own." - Sydney J. Harris

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Here's a video of inside the restaurant...there's a few more that you can see as well.

If I was a Kid, I'd be begging my parents to go to this place...... :biggrin:

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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Here's a video of inside the restaurant...there's a few more that you can see as well.

If I was a Kid, I'd be begging my parents to go to this place......  :biggrin:

Gee, it looks like Hell... from what little can be seen in this video. This looks like some of the bootleg dvd's I watched in China!! :laugh::laugh:

u.e.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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