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The merits of chain dining in the Heartland


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the Disney syndrome continues. People want to pay to be entertained because they have no energy for creativity. Even when they are dining in their home town. Is this place, t-rex, supposed to become a tourist attraction? If so, it will probably succeed. ON another board, the question was asked what chefs your family and friends can name, turns out very few. I think we are in the minority. Those of us who are driven by food are not as numerous as we would wish.

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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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.

Cover story in today's Star Business Section on the new Applebee's CEO corroborates calling in Tyler for a menu makeover, in addition to a lot of top-shelf cocktails. Sounds like they've decided to move upscale a bit, raise the average check and reclaim their diners who have defected to the Factory.

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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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:

That is truly disturbing. It gives a whole new meaning to the concept of ambience.

A little more digging revealed that Landry's bought 80 percent of the T-Rex deal before they even opened this first one, with an option to buy the other 20 depending on profitabilty. Landry's owns several other familiar resto-tainment places, including chilihead's favorite crabby place. :biggrin:

At least the dinosaurs [presumably] don't burst into 'spontaneous' song every 20 minutes. Yet.

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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But it doesn't stop there .... I guess the company that owns the Build Your Own Teddy Bear franchise has set up a "Build Your Own Dinosaur" inside T-Rex. Total genius move on their part. What kid ISN'T going to beg their parents to spend the extra (what I'm guessing would be) around 40 bucks on top of dinner for their own dinosaur? Gone are the days of simple branded t-shirts and frisbees.

I do recognize we are definitely in the very, very small minority with our feelings towards restaurant chains and suburban strip mall "theme parks" like Village West, because the majority of people that I talk to start the conversation with "Oh man, have YOU BEEN TO VILLAGE WEST YET!?!?!?". And I do enjoy Dave & Busters on a weekday afternoon myself. It's just disheartening because other than Arthur Bryant's I can't think of any other KC business raking it in out there. I'm happy to stand corrected if that's not the case, I don't know what all is out there and I admit that my mind can't get past the thought of a Jimmy Buffet themed cheeseburger joint.....because there are very few things in this world that I hate as much as the muzak from that sonofasonofabitch.

BTW, can somebody PLEASE fine U.E. a menu so that he can grab his camera and get out to T-Rex for recon duty???? :biggrin:

Edited by Zeemanb (log)

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

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My eG Food Blog- 2011

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the Disney syndrome continues. People want to pay to be entertained because they have no energy for creativity. Even when they are dining in their home town. Is this place, t-rex, supposed to become a tourist attraction? If so, it will probably succeed. ON another board, the question was asked what chefs your family and friends can name, turns out very few. I think we are in the minority. Those of us who are driven by food are not as numerous as we would wish.

Isn't going out to dinner always a form of entertainment? What's the difference between seeking out a dinosaur-themed restaurant and seeking out a particular chef?

Edited by Andrew Fenton (log)
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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

Their cinnamon things make me happy to be alive. Seriously, if you're going to do cheap and chain, I'd rather eat a ton of cheap pizza at CiCi's than Applebee's, Chili's, Friday's, and Pizza Hut all rolled into one.

"Give it to Neil. I'll bet he'll eat it."
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Isn't going out to dinner always a form of entertainment?  What's the difference between seeking out a dinosaur-themed restaurant and seeking out a particular chef?

I guess it depends on what your expectations are. If I want to be entertained, I'll go somewhere to seek that (music, theatre, amusement park). If I want to eat, I go to a good restaurant. If, serendipitously, I am entertained in the process I consider that a bonus.

I guess that's why people are willing to wait 2 hours for a table. If you compare it to standing online for the latest, greatest roller coaster, it's probably not all that bad. Plus, as long as you can busy yourself building a dinosaur, I'm sure the hours just fly by. I always like Pterry Dactyl on Pee Wee's Playhouse. Maybe I'll run over there and make one this afternoon. :rolleyes:

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 don't want to get too far off base or T-Rex-centric in this thread, but I did find a freakish statistic in the following article that lists "high traffic tourist destinations" as targets for any future T-Rex locations. Here's the thing.....it states that Disney World draws 16 million visitors per year; a perfect spot for another theme restaurant. Nothing weird there. BUT in the same paragraph it states that Village West (anchored by NASCAR and Nebraska Furniture Mart) draws in....................15 million visitors per year. Good to know the 'dotte is only one million visitors shy of eclipsing the Magic Kingdom as a tourist destination. :wacko: I'm telling you, if they'd lighten up and put in that Coyote Ugly bar that was banned a few months back, they could give Mickey a run for his money!

Link to the article below.

Meet the Flintstones

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

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My eG Food Blog- 2011

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the Disney syndrome continues. People want to pay to be entertained because they have no energy for creativity. Even when they are dining in their home town. Is this place, t-rex, supposed to become a tourist attraction? If so, it will probably succeed. ON another board, the question was asked what chefs your family and friends can name, turns out very few. I think we are in the minority. Those of us who are driven by food are not as numerous as we would wish.

Isn't going out to dinner always a form of entertainment? What's the difference between seeking out a dinosaur-themed restaurant and seeking out a particular chef?

I agree that going out to dinner is a form of entertainment. For me, the choice is food driven not entertainment driven. For most members of my family, they want the entertainment value and the food is a secondary decision, so long as there is lots of it on the plate. Quality is not a decisive factor for them. I am known to drive to other cities to be able to taste the food from a respected chef, but I will not drive across town to be entertained at a theme driven restaurant.

So I guess the difference is what a persons priorities are dictates the choices they make about where and how they spend their food dollars. I will go to the entertainment driven places if that is the choice of the majority and then it is my choice to spend time with the group, not specifically the dining option in question.

I went to Disneyworld once in 1972 and have not felt the need to return. That type of total immersion entertainment is not something that I enjoy or chose to spend my time and dollars participating in. That is my choice. I don't think I am snobby about it and am happy to let others go that route.

The times I have been to total immersion entertainment dining, I pretty much always leave dissappointed. This was a topic we discussed in one of my hospitality classes when I was at Univ of New Orleans. So to those who enjoy this type of dining, have fun and enjoy yourselfs. I will be down the street at places like Bluestem enjoying myself.

Rock on.

Edited by joiei (log)

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 agree that going out to dinner is a form of entertainment.  For me, the choice is food driven not entertainment driven.  For most members of my family, they want the entertainment value and the food is a secondary decision, so long as there is lots of it on the plate.  Quality is not a decisive factor for them.  I am known to drive to other cities to be able to taste the food from a respected chef, but I will not drive across town to be entertained at a theme driven restaurant. 

Now I'm even more confused. First you say that going out to dinner is entertainment for you; then you say it's "food-driven, not entertainment-driven".

But surely going to a restaurant--any restaurant-- is about more than just food. Most of us wouldn't be happy if we were served the finest food in the world in dog bowl in a urine-soaked back alley. A restaurant experience is about the food, service, decor, et cetera.

You and I would certainly agree that the experience of spending an evening at the French Laundry would be preferable to that of spending an evening at a dinosaur restaurant. But that's just a preference for one sort of experience over another.

And it's a leeetle bit of hyperbole to claim that the success of T-Rex (or whatever) is a sign of a lack of creativity...

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I've been lurking on this thread for a while, reading all of the interesting comments.

Personally, I think good food, destination food can come with or without the entertainment value. If I'm eating at an upscale venue where I am paying top dollar for the food, then I agree wholeheartedly that I expect good food, good service, and good ambiance. If I stop at the local rib shack that only offers take-out, but makes the best pulled pork sandwich around, then clearly I am just going there for the food. I like doing the former when I can afford to, but finding the latter is always more impressive.

I think what I (and I'm guessing a number of other people posting on this thread) am concerned with is how frustrated I feel at trying to get people to break out of the mold ... to try something new. Unfortunately, I have found that the definition of the word "new" depends on who is defining it. To me new is experimentation, a new type of cuisine, a different type of meat that I've never tried before, a new kind of preparation of the ingredients. And usually you find those things with skilled local chefs. To many, many people I know, "new" means that new Cheesecake Factory or that new T-Rex or ... you get the picture -- someplace they've never eaten before but all of their friends have clamored on about how good everything is and how HUGE the portions are. Even though there appears to be cultural differences between menus of these chain restaurants, they are carefully put together to not really stray TOO far from what average, middle-class Americans like to eat. It may be new, but it's also safe.

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I wonder what T-Rex's version of the bloomin' onion is called.  :unsure:

God help us all. I found their WEBSITE.

No bloomin' onion, but they do have Pterodactyl Wings, T-REXadillas, and Lava Me Tenders. The dessert section is aptly titled "The End Is Near." :shock:

Edited by gmi3804 (log)
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God help us all.  I found their WEBSITE.

No bloomin' onion, but they do have Pterodactyl Wings, T-REXadillas, and Lava Me Tenders.  The dessert section is aptly titled "The End Is Near."   :shock:

Hey folks, let's not forget - at the end of the day, it's just food. :wink:

Suck my Artifact Stack!! :laugh::laugh:

u.e.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

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I wonder what T-Rex's version of the bloomin' onion is called.   :unsure:

God help us all. I found their WEBSITE.

No bloomin' onion, but they do have Pterodactyl Wings, T-REXadillas, and Lava Me Tenders. The dessert section is aptly titled "The End Is Near." :shock:

HOLY SH*T!

“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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I want to know if they are organic?

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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God help us all.  I found their WEBSITE.

That's horrific. Has anyone actually made it past the wait and eaten there? I mean, one of us has to throw ourself on the grenade and report back for the greater good, right? I'm picturing a build-your-own dino wearing a baby eG shirt as like the ultimate in foodie irony.

Edited by dividend (log)

"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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I'm not sure there is any "greater good" to be served by subjecting one of our own to this. I suppose if you have a kid who is into dinosaurs there could be worse things. I have been to Cheeseburger in Paradise on two occasions (to listen to bands), so I've paid my Village West dues.

And to address something upthread, Bryant's is not quite the only local eatery up there. There is a small bakery called MeMa's that I've heard good things about. Not being a bakery afficionado, I haven't fallen on that grenade yet, either.

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'll take the bullet, but I'm not going alone.  And I'm not going sober.  And I'm not going anytime close to this holiday weekend.

Okay, I'm not going at all.  You know how many times I could eat at Pizza Street for that kind of money?!?!

:laugh::laugh: Where is Chicagowench on this one? She's got to have something good to say

“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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God help us all.  I found their WEBSITE.

Yow! Well, I have two thoughts:

first, I like the pasta names: "Triassic Tortellini", "Layers of the Earth Lasagna", "Mammoth Mushroom Raviolis" (sic), and the oddly disappointing "Rigatoni". Why couldn't they have named it after the mighty earthshaking lizard, the Rigatonasaurus? I ask you.

Second, why didn't I think of this dino-restaurant idea first? I wanna be a millionaire, too...

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first, I like the pasta names: "Triassic Tortellini", "Layers of the Earth Lasagna", "Mammoth Mushroom Raviolis" (sic), and the oddly disappointing "Rigatoni".  Why couldn't they have named it after the mighty earthshaking lizard, the Rigatonasaurus?  I ask you.

You know what I have a hankering for?

They almost had me with their Primordial Ooze Fondue, but my pick is definitely the Intelligent Design Carbonara.

It's a Kansas specialty!!!

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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Where is Chicagowench on this one? She's got to have something good to say

I don't know if I should be offended (you think I'd take my sweet, tender, impressionable child to this place?) or honored (you wanted to hear me cut loose about this?). If it's the former, dude, you are so not invited to the smoke-out for labor day.

My actual job- other than swanning about the boards, snarking about Joco- involves themed entertainment, for lack of a better euphemism, and edutainment. And even my moneygrubbing company, after the filthy, filthy lucre of the 'experience economy' which gives rise to horrorshows like this, refuses to design these kinds of places because man these kinds of 'immersion experiences' suck. I'm twitching on so many different levels- foodie, educator, parent, design professional- as I gaze upon this trainwreck of a restaurant concept.

My child, upon being shown the menu and having it read to him, decreed the following:

Me: "Um. They have a...bronto burger."

Child: "*sigh* Mommy. Not bronto. Apat-o-saurus. Ffft. WRONG."

Me: "And....Pterodacytl wings."

Child: "*sigh*. mommy silly. Chicken wings. Pter-o-dac-tyl extinct. Can't buy at red store." (translation: Target.) "Can we have cous-cous now? Wit' goat cheese?"

OK, you know your theme premise sucks when a three year old is crapshooting your twee faux content.

Edited to add:

They almost had me with their Primordial Ooze Fondue, but my pick is definitely the Intelligent Design Carbonara.

Watch it, man, or theFlying Spaghetti Monster will own your nonbelieving rear.

Edited by chicagowench (log)

What do you mean I shouldn't feed the baby sushi?

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first, I like the pasta names: "Triassic Tortellini", "Layers of the Earth Lasagna", "Mammoth Mushroom Raviolis" (sic), and the oddly disappointing "Rigatoni".  Why couldn't they have named it after the mighty earthshaking lizard, the Rigatonasaurus?  I ask you.

You know what I have a hankering for?

They almost had me with their Primordial Ooze Fondue, but my pick is definitely the Intelligent Design Carbonara.

It's a Kansas specialty!!!

I'm rather partial to the "Artifact Stack" myself: "...fried sweet onions and pickles (!), piled high and served with our BBQ Ranch and Ranch dressings for dipping."

:wacko:

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