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"Let's Eat" by Celentano closed


Beth E.
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I was over at Toys R Us today and I decided to cruise passed "Let's Eat." I was surprised to see it was dark. There was a sign in the window saying they were closed 9/11 and would reopen on 9/12, but this is 9/15.

Then I noticed a couple of other signs -- one is a Warrent of Closure -- at least that's what I think it said. There was some type of official closure notice on the other door as well.

Anyone have any info on what's going on there?

Edited by Beth E. (log)
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They put a lot of money into the renovations for that place, it's a shame. The truth be told the food was not very good. I had gotten some risotto that was like paste.

Ambiance CAN be as important as the food!

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I think the concept wasn't very well thought out. We went for lunch a few times, the food wasn't very good and the menu was very limited. You couldn't just walk in and order a sandwich, you had to pick from the few sandwiches that they had pre-made. That mall may be good for Toys R Us but not for most other businesses. The carpet guy is going out also, or at least he's had a "moving sale" going on now for the last 3 months and the Office Depot is always empty.

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We went once. Food was awful, the dining experience was worse. Darwinian capitalism succeeds again.

Doesn't happen as often as you would expect; look at the wild success of Charlie Browns...

Menton, not to pick on you but just how heavy is that chip on your shoulder about "chain restaurants"? I know you hate chains, and you've laid out your case clearly in other posts, but why bring up a chain restaurant here? If Scarlet Knight is correct about Darwinian capitalism then the "wild success" of Charlie Brown's argues for that restaurant to stay in business for years to come. Let's Eat went out of business because they did a bad job of offering people what they wanted. Charlie Brown's stays in business by offering people what they do want, even if thats not what you think they should want.

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Menton, not to pick on you but just how heavy is that chip on your shoulder about "chain restaurants"? I know you hate chains, and you've laid out your case clearly in other posts, but why bring up a chain restaurant here? If Scarlet Knight is correct about Darwinian capitalism then the "wild success" of Charlie Brown's argues for that restaurant to stay in business for years to come. Let's Eat went out of business because they did a bad job of offering people what they wanted. Charlie Brown's stays in business by offering people what they do want, even if thats not what you think they should want.

I think you have greatly oversimplified the restaurant business here. It it was just that easy, all restaurants would succeed. All restaurants want to do well, they want to satisfy their customer and get them back. But there are tremendous shadings for the factors that make a restaurant successful. Lots of intangibles. These easy rules don't always work.

In the case of Charlie Browns, I scratch my head all the time. I pass the ones in Oradell and Washing Twp frequently, and continue to be amazed how packed and overflowing their parking lots are, 7 days a week. And this is a place that serves mediocre food at best, with mediocre service at best. No, the rules don't apply to CBs.

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I think you have greatly oversimplified the restaurant business here.  It it was just that easy, all restaurants would succeed. All restaurants want to do well, they want to satisfy their customer and get them back. But there are tremendous shadings for the factors that make a restaurant successful.  Lots of intangibles.  These easy rules don't always work. 

In the case of Charlie Browns, I scratch my head all the time.  I pass the ones in Oradell and Washing Twp frequently, and continue to be amazed how packed and overflowing their parking lots are, 7 days a week.  And this is a place that serves mediocre food at best, with mediocre service at best.  No, the rules don't apply to CBs.

I don't think I've oversimplified things at all. To get back to Let's Eat, they didn't really want to satisfy their customers. They wanted their customers to be satisfied with what they had to offer. They had zero room for special requests. I went in one day and asked for a couple of ham and cheese sandwiches and was told that they couldn't make them because all they had was some fancy rosemary ham and that I should order from the pre-made sandwiches in their case.

In the case of Charlie Brown's I'll bet you that the people who pack that place 7 days a week don't think its mediocre. They may be wrong but they don't think so and if they keep coming back then thats all CB's cares about.

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I agree with the "success" of Charlie Browns ... they have a good salad bar and burger, but thats about it ... forget about the "steaks" there ... even more puzzling, how in the heck does that Sizzler stay in operation on Eagle Rock Ave across from the Whole Foods site?! ... didn't that chain/brand die with the 1970s and Arthur Treachers?

As for chain food, I like Palm Steakhouses and Capital Grille for instance. Fridays, Houlihans, and Chili's serve decent fare for quick bite and good meeting spots for happy hours and drinks. You can do much worse, of course, but I wouldn't apply a broad stereotype to all chain restaurants, thats for sure.

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I agree with the "success" of Charlie Browns ... they have a good salad bar and burger, but thats about it ... forget about the "steaks" there ... even more puzzling, how in the heck does that Sizzler stay in operation on Eagle Rock Ave across from the Whole Foods site?! ... didn't that chain/brand die with the 1970s and Arthur Treachers?

As for chain food, I like Palm Steakhouses and Capital Grille for instance. Fridays, Houlihans, and Chili's serve decent fare for quick bite and good meeting spots for happy hours and drinks. You can do much worse, of course, but I wouldn't apply a broad stereotype to all chain restaurants, thats for sure.

The restaurant in West Orange you're thinking of is the Ponderosa. It's the last one in NJ, although there are still plenty of others throughout the country. I do go there about once or twice a year. It's not great, but it's OK for a cheap steak meal. It seems to do pretty good business most days. Not everyone wants to (or can afford to) spend $75 on a steak, no matter how good it may be.

I used to love Alexus Steakhouse for a cheap, good steak, but the quality has gone down and the prices have gone up quite a bit in recent years. It's still good, but not like it used to be. Back when they opened the Clifton location in the early 90s when I was at Montclair State, however, they rocked. It was $9.95 for the 24 oz. steaks then. The price is probably about double that now, and it's much worse quality.

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CB's is popular because it's a family place, offers coupons, and has drinks and apps. Appeals to a large group. That said, the food and service both are only fair, imo. Unfortunately, most "foodie" places aren't kid friendly or inexpensive.

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CB's is popular because it's a family place, offers coupons, and has drinks and apps. Appeals to a large group. That said, the food and service both are only fair, imo.  Unfortunately, most "foodie" places aren't kid friendly or inexpensive.

And they willl do special requests, which again is attractive to parents whose kids can often be picky. VEry kid friendly.

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We have had this "kid friendly" discussion before, I believe in the "General Food" board. This is a nebulous term.

Does kid friendly mean that the kids can run around the tables shouting and playing? Does it mean that they can throw the food on the floor? Or does it mean crayons and lollipops?

I think that good-food restaurants can be a great experience for parents and kids as well, but its up to the parents to have a well-behaved child that respects the parents wishes and the restaurant environment. If the parents have done their job, most restaurants, including the good food places, can be "kid friendly". You don't have to settle for inferior food.

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True, food doesn't have to be inferior, but how many upscale places are there that have high chairs and kid menus? That's what "kid friendly" means to me. My kids are well behaved and I have no problem taking them anywhere. I do have a problem spending $33 for an entree for one of them though!

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True, food doesn't have to be inferior, but how many upscale places are there that have high chairs and kid menus? That's what "kid friendly" means to me.  My kids are well behaved and I have no problem taking them anywhere. I do have a problem spending $33 for an entree for one of them though!

Well, this brings up a multitude of issues. But surely Charlie Browns is not the answer to lower prices. Plenty of good restaurants at reasonable prices. Frankly, I don't think CBs is either cheap or a good value at all.

High chairs probably means toddlers, might be harder to find other than diners and chains. "Kid's menu" is another ball game. Paying the extra charge for sharing may solve that problem.

While traveling in Europe, noticeable by their absence are any chain restaurants. However, young children are seen everywhere in most restaurants in all categories. What is noticeable is how well behaved the children are. They are also allowed some wine, but that is another topic altogether.

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This is NJ, not Europe and while I agree there are lots of independent restaurants in which children are accepted and the food is good, there is a reason these chain restaurants thrive. They are popular and succeed at giving decent (at times), affordable food to the masses. Some of them do it better than others, CBs is an example.

As someone who studies the industry, you can't over look the value of a chain-- they promote specials, coupons and even "kids eat free nights". I'm not a mother, but I can see the appeal-- it's fast and easy, the food is basic and the kids get their crayons.

For one to snub all chain restaurants, one must be wealthy and have time on their hands. Most family owned places are not open past 8 or 9pm on weeknights, closed Mondays, weekend days, and can be limited in their willingness to accomodate children, whether it is a lack of high chairs or no children's menu. I work for three restaurants that fit in that category.

Chain restaurants give consistent food, no matter where you are, and value. Living in New Jersey, I would think anyone would be able to appreciate those traits at one point or another in their lives, given the cost of living.

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For one to snub all chain restaurants, one must be wealthy and have time on their hands

I don't agree at all, I am neither of these and have not been to any of these chains in years.

I think that the idea that they are "cheap" is a perception, not a reality. As a matter of fact, it is definitely possible to eat more cheaply and have a much higher quality of food and a dining experience at a family run single owner restaurant. For example, in pricey NYC, New York Magazine listed about 100 family run places to eat at in the city for under $25 in a spread a few weeks ago. There are maybe not as many in NJ, but they are definitely here.

Of course, it may take a little research to find these places. The chains are much "easier". That is probably the best explanation for their success. They are easy. They are not really cheap, and they are mediocre at best.

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For one to snub all chain restaurants, one must be wealthy and have time on their hands

I don't agree at all, I am neither of these and have not been to any of these chains in years.

I think that the idea that they are "cheap" is a perception, not a reality.

agreed. you could go broke eating at chain restaurants, and you wouldn't be eating very well in the process.

i don't normally eat at chains, and i don't care if anyone else does.

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Chains *can* be expensive, if you allow the server to push numerous courses and drinks on you. My sister just took my 2 kids to CB's, used a coupon, and had a decent meal for $17. Certainly better than Burger King. Different strokes.......

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Chains *can* be expensive, if you allow the server to push numerous courses and drinks on you. My sister just took my 2 kids to CB's, used a coupon, and had a decent meal for $17.  Certainly better than Burger King. Different strokes.......

i don't allow 19 year old kids to push anything on me.

chains can be expensive for reasons no more complicated or diabolical than that they simply are not inexpensive, especially relative to mom-and-pop places.

Edited by tommy (log)
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Of course, it may take a little research to find these places.  The chains are much "easier".  That is probably the best explanation for their success.  They are easy.  They are not really cheap, and they are mediocre at best.

Yeah, it takes some research which most people have neither the time nor the inclination to do. Sure, you can find places serving better food for the same or less money than some of the chains but certain chains cater to kids. I'm thinking of places like Applebee's which I wouldn't say is good but I will say that my kids like it. They eat mac and cheese or chicken nuggets and they get crayons on the way to the table and a balloon on the way out the door. When you're 2.5 these things matter more than the food does. Plus, you can talk all you want about well behaved children but how well behaved is a 2.5 year old going to be? You can go to one of these places and not care if your child is well behaved (within limits) because no one else's kids are well behaved either.

As for this assertion that food at a chain restaurant is always inferior I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. I still maintain that certain chains like Legal Seafood or even the Outback do a very good job at what they do.

BTW, went by Let's Eat today. Huge sign in the window advertising the space as available for lease.

Edited by dbrociner (log)
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Chains can be cheap because the offer promotions-- ie: at Bennigan's kids eat free every Tuesday, Charlie Browns, TGIFridays and Applebee's promote coupons and a lot of them have "member rewards". The prices are reasonable if you're not ordering a boat load of food-- and they are everywhere which, I'd imagine is easy for a family who is on the go. I do not find them expensive, although I'm sure there are places which are considerably less expensive, doing the research to discover them is not that easy.

That said? I hate chains. I rarely if ever eat at them. But I'm in my 20s, single and have the time and take the effort to eat at places because of what the offer and to try new things, not because I have a family that needs to be fed quickly and with minimal fuss.

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....not because I have a family that needs to be fed quickly and with minimal fuss.

As a parent of a VERY fussy eater:

One of the appeals of chains finding ones that have food you know your fussy eater will eat. When we travel often go to Applebee on the road because it has the blue box macaroni and it has non burger items for the adults. I have one fussy eater and the other two are more willing to try things, but it's not usually worth it to buy some thing for him to try, throw it out when he does not like it, and then pay for a second lunch.

An example:

I took the kids to AHD and one hated it (he only had fries and didn't like them), one was okay - ate the bacon off the dog and about half the dog, left the fries and the bun, and the other loved everything (she's been before). So I ended up throwing out almost ten dollars of food. And then buying a second lunch someplace else for the two who were not full.

Non chain places we always keep an eye out for is Diners (and we've moved to Diner Haven here in NJ!). The fussiest likes scrambled eggs, so we've found this is a great way to avoid chains when we can.

Still searching for hash browns in Jersey.

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