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Posts Tagged ‘fast-food’

  1. Pet Peeve: Someone Should…

    July 27, 2015 by Ryan

    In my Facebook feed, I follow several restaurants and businesses. Almost always, when one posts something, comments follow saying, “You should open a Sticky Fingers in my city!” “You need another Wingers on the North / East / South / West side of such-a-town” “I really miss Target since I moved and wish there was one close to me.”

    I also follow my city’s Facebook page. Frequently, when they announce new developments, they get comments like “Cheesecake Factory should open in the city!” “Put a Starbucks location on the North / East / South / West side of town – with a drive through, because the morning traffic goes right by there and it would be an awesome location!”

    This just irks me every time.

    I get the thought they are trying to convey. But these posters are missing a fundamental point.

    What I hear them saying is, “Someone should do this for my convenience.”

    Why don’t you do it?!

    Yeah, I’m talking to you, poster of the comment!

    If this is such a great idea – a foolproof moneymaking operation – why don’t you get the capital together and make it happen?!

    These businesses and restaurants don’t just magically happen. It takes money. It takes management. It takes employees. It takes incentive. It takes guts. It takes risk. Someone stands behind it, and rises or falls with it.

    The city council doesn’t vote to open a new Taco Bell or Trader Joe’s or In-N-Out Burger and then – poof – construction machines show up and start moving earth.

    Real people decide that the venture is worth it, and they make it happen.

    Real people like you!

    If you don’t have the money to do it, pool together with your family or friends and invest in it. Or get a business loan. Find someone who has the money and pitch the idea; go in on it as a 5% or 10% investor.

    But don’t just complain on Facebook that someone else should make this thing happen for you. You do no market research. You assume no risk. You just want it to be there to suit you.

    That is downright cowardly to make such suggestions and not be willing to back them up.

    Yes, Facebook commenter, I just called you a coward.

    Understand that I know where I’m coming from. From 1998 to 2001 I owned and operated my own small business.

    In a small city, with my own money to invest, I signed a lease on some business space and I opened a computer store.

    I can say for certain that I didn’t make millions of dollars. I wasn’t exactly a failure either. I learned a lot of lessons, and I did well enough to get by during those years. It was very much a challenge. I wouldn’t trade what I learned from that experience for anything else.

    Especially what I learned about respect for a business owner. I take my hat off to anyone who makes that decision to invest themselves and their resources into making an honest enterprise happen.


  2. The Koran, Taco Bell, and Right and Wrong

    September 11, 2010 by Ryan

    I’ve been observing the news with interest the past few days, as several stories are intersecting.

    The largest event is the 9th anniversary of the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. I still remember September 11, 2001 very well. I lived in the Mountain Time Zone, and was preparing to leave for work at about 9:00 am. In the 8:00 am hour, I received a phone call from a computer customer, who asked the computer question, and then incidentally asked me if I’d seen the news yet? I turned on the TV and learned what was happening. I drove to work with the radio playing, and became more and more involved with each moment. I remember that day at work being a very slow day. The few customers that came that day were somber. Confusion were abounding with every individual, as all of the comforts and conveniences each enjoyed and expected to indefinitely into the future were now in doubt. That day, and the days following, was a time when each individual turned to self-introspection. They questioned and clung their core religious beliefs, values, and guiding principles. Many who had none sought them out. For a time, we set aside our differences and stood firmly together as Americans.

    Nine years later, there is still a hole in the ground where the buildings in New York City once stood. In November 2006 I stood by and witnessed it. I remember the taxi driver being reluctant to take us there, when we answered where we wanted to go. To us, as tourists, it was one more attraction to check off on our list. To him, a native, it was a horrible and traumatizing memory. He almost tried to talk us out of it, saying “You don’t want to see ‘da hole.’” – yet he knew he would not talk us out of it. He had driven too many tourists to that place which he never wanted to see again. I especially sensed that when he offered that he would drop us off one block away, and we could walk over. He even agreed to wait for us there and, when we were done looking at ‘da hole,’ he would take us to our next destination.

    Our little group looked it over, and read the plaques and memorials that were setup. It was an accidental plot of sacred ground, in the middle of a bustling city of commerce and excitement. It hadn’t been intended as a sacred resting ground, but in a horrifying instant it was made such by a few who carried extreme religious beliefs.

    Which leads to the second big emotionally-charged event currently in the news… the planned Islamic center and mosque to be build about 2 blocks away from Ground Zero. In the 2001 attacks on the Trade Center, a cultural center and mosque 4 blocks away was damaged. The planners chose, rather than incur the expense of repairing that one, to use another piece of property 2 blocks away and renovate it to create a newer, better center. Plans I’ve seen describe this as a Muslim version of the YMCA – having a 900 seat theatre, athletic / recreation facilities, and room for prayer and worship.

    They meet the zoning requirements, and the facility would serve many good Muslim Americans who work or live in the area. Many Americans have taken it upon themselves to spout-off an opinion against putting a ‘Mosque’ so close to ‘Ground Zero.’ Although I admit that I may be wrong, I am for them building it.

    I belong to a religion commonly known as the Mormons. I think this allows me a unique understanding of how people, in general, are suspicious or fearful of what they don’t understand or believe.

    With every religion, including mine, there are some who take extreme positions. In my faith, there used to be a teaching that some men should marry multiple wives at the same time, under specific circumstances and by instruction from God. The mainstream church discontinued that practice about 120 years ago. But there are some who broke away from the main body, and continue to practice that teaching today. They call themselves “Fundaments Mormons,” but they represent an element that is extreme, fringe, and fanatic. Anyone trying to teach or practice that idea is excommunicated from the mainstream church. To me, on the ‘inside’ of the Mormon church, this makes perfect sense and is not an issue. Those outside the church generally group all people who profess to be Mormons into the so-called ‘Mormon Church,’ without any research or further thought. They form an opinion and move on.

    I think this same kind of thing has happened with the Muslims and the extremist Muslim believers who acted on September 11. I’ve observed that Muslims are fine people; I’ve been told that the Koran teaches good values, and I know that many people around the world have found satisfaction in following its ways. I have not read the Koran, but I’m certain that if I did, I would find many things to agree with in it, because the evidence is that people that follow it are largely good, honest, people; and many of them are fellow Americans.

    Now, I’d hate for someone to hear reports of some extremists who call themselves Mormons going on a terror rampage, and for the entire country to decide that Mormons cannot build anymore churches or temples because of it. And since I can feel that way about the Mormons, I can feel that way about the Muslims too. I am for more places that promote peace, prayer, and fellowship; and I am for them building where they want to build.

    Despite the fact that they might be fully in the right, and comply with all local laws, they won’t back down on their location choice. The only motive I see left in their continued attempt to build on this spot is to intentionally cause pain, heartache, anger, and contention in the hearts of other children of God who believe differently than they do. That, in all of my studies, is not something that Christ taught. I doubt it is something that the Koran even teaches. So perhaps in the name of peace, they ought to seriously consider relocating.

    That leads me to the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida. This little church of 50 followers identifies itself as a Christian group – yet there are many in the country doubting that they are truly founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Their pastor has spoken loudly and arrogantly about publicly burning copies of the Koran, the book of scripture which the Muslims hold sacred. Instead of encouraging his flock to read it, the pastor is encouraging them to torch it.

    I can think of nothing good that can possibly come from this. He will teach 50 followers that showing kindness is wrong. He is teaching 50 followers that trying to communicate and understand anyone who believes differently is incorrect. He is projecting an attitude that says ‘I am better than you.’ He also doesn’t seem to mind standing front and center for every microphone and camera that comes nearby.

    Again, I draw from my limited understanding and experience to draw some conclusions. My religion also believes in a book, which the rest of the world does not openly and whole-heartedly accept. I know that many times in the past 180 years, copies of The Book of Mormon have been destroyed in a vindictive manor – usually by those who have not read it and refuse to try to understand it. I expect it will happen many more times in the future. I’m disappointed, but it doesn’t bother me too much beyond that because the book is made of paper and ink. Its contents can be replaced, and its message is still the same.

    The Muslims, however, believe something a little deeper. I’ve been told that they don’t believe a copy of the Koran is simply paper and ink bound together, but that once the message of the Koran is printed on that paper, the book becomes a holy and sacred object. The destruction of that book becomes a tragedy. I remember a news report many years ago about Taco Bell switching to 100% recycled napkins, and Muslims being concerned that a Koran may have been recycled, and become part of a napkin, and now someone is wiping ‘Fire’ sauce from their face with the  sacred pages of scripture. I remember it being a very big concern at the time. They take the sacredness of the physical manuscript seriously.

    Now, if the Dove World Outreach Center is looking to conduct an experiment to find out what happens if you combine paper and fire, I can already tell you the result. The book will burn, there is no question about that. That leaves me to wonder what their true motive is?

    Despite the fact that they might be fully in the right, and comply with all local laws, they won’t back down on their activity. The only motive I see left in their continued attempt to burn the Koran is to intentionally cause pain, heartache, anger, and contention in the hearts of other children of God who believe differently than they do. That, in all of my studies, is not something that Christ taught. I doubt it is something that the Koran even teaches. So perhaps in the name of peace, they ought to seriously consider a different action.

    Isn’t the dove a symbol of peace anyway? And won’t a world outreach involve extending an olive branch rather than a stick on fire?


  3. Do they have French Fries in France?

    February 3, 2010 by Ryan

    Today, I’d like to make a comparison of two popular hamburger chains that have been around for a while, but are fairly new to my area. I’ve finally had a chance to taste them both, and so I offer my review of In-N-Out Burger (www.in-n-out.com) vs. Five Guys Burger and Fries (www.fiveguys.com)

    Let’s start with comparing the burger…

    In-N-Out:

    Their claim is that their ingredients are never frozen. The burger tastes very fresh. The patties are smaller than Five Guys, but satisfying. The price is considerably lower than Five Guys too.

    I made a mistake of ordering a cheeseburger with onion. The onion was just fine, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as thick as the beef patty! I found that a very unusual tactic to serve it that way, and was turned off by too much of a good thing.

    Five Guys:

    Their claim is that everything is cooked in 100% peanut oil. In fact, you will find warnings on the doors advising you not to enter the building if you have peanut allergies. Their prices are almost triple what In-N-Out charges.

    The beef almost seems hand pressed to me – not consistently cut and measured. I could be wrong on that, but I can certainly say that their serving is more generous. It also seems juicier. Five guys serves the burger wrapped in aluminum foil, and it retains its juices. The peanut oil gives it a good, unique flavor.

    Other thoughts – Carl’s Jr. serves a “Ranch Burger” for $1, of comparable size to In-N-Out. It doesn’t taste as fresh, but my experience with the onion overload may have turned me off a little and built a bias against In-N-Out.

    My Vote: Five Guys has the better tasting burger. For the money, In-N-Out is the better bargin. Just hold the onions!

    And how about the Fries…

    Five Guys:

    They offer two kinds of fries – regular and (my favorite) Cajun (Cajun is not really spicy, just seasoned). Their potatoes cooked in 100% peanut oil. These are the kind of fries I really get into. Fresh Cut. Thick. Seasoned just right. A very nice touch is that they have a white board in the store telling you where the potatoes came from. It doesn’t enhance the product necessarily, but is kind of fun to know that the spuds being served today came from Sugar City, Idaho.

    In-N-Out:

    I was not impressed with their fries at all. There is very little substance – shoe string potato fried up so that it seems like you are eating some processed food.

    Winner: An easy choice for me: Five Guys.

    Staff:

    While Five Guys features approximately five pleasant but typical fast-food employees running the restaurant, I was fascinated to watch about 30 people scrambling around like worker bees at In-N-Out. Everyone facing the public had a smile on their face (though I noticed a few in the very back of the kitchen that were not smiling – perhaps they were concentrating). I saw one employee stop for about 10 seconds and visit with another employee, and they both still maintained their cheery smile. They wear white clothing, and a couple people just keep patrolling the place, picking up trash and keeping it spotless. It reminded me of Disneyland. I’m sure the payroll is higher, but their attention to detail and service was phenomenal! I’m pretty certain this comes from their being a private company, rather than a franchise.

    Customer Service: In-N-Out

    Overall – If cost is no concern, Five Guys has better tasting food. But because I’m a cheapskate, I’d pick up the Cajun fries at Five Guys, head over to In-N-Out, and enjoy some burgers and the show.


  4. Refills are Free, Big Spender

    July 13, 2009 by Ryan

    I apologize if this post isn’t up to the usual quality of coherency to which you are accustomed. I’ll blame it on being dehydrated.

    I entered the fast food restaurant this evening, hot, tired, and slightly sunburned.

    I won’t name the establishment that “I’m thinking” about, but you can probably guess. It doesn’t matter; they are almost all guilty of this anyway.

    Waiting for a family member’s bathroom break to conclude before ordering, I sat down at a table. I should probably have been thinking about what I wanted to order, but I was too worn-out to spend brain cells on that sort of thinking just yet; I’d figure that out when I got to the counter.

    As it happened, a combination of events unfolded before me, at just the wrong time, to combine with my tired state and to have an overall effect of annoying me.

    I watched another customer rise from his table. In his hand was a paper cup that was fairly small. In fact, as I looked closer, I noticed this paper cup was not intended for holding a drink, but instead for holding a side order of popcorn chicken. It was even a little bit smaller than a “kid’s meal” drink cup, if that is possible.

    And I watched him fill it up with water at the drink machine.

    Meanwhile, at another location somewhere near the front counter of the restaurant, a kind employee was informing a different customer that she could call the number printed on the bottom of the receipt, to take a customer satisfaction survey. A bit of less relevant detail, and I promise that I am NOT making this up: She told the customer that she hoped they would give good “5” ratings, as the store manager really wants to improve their “C.S.I.” I hope that was internal jargon that meant “Customer Service Index” rather than “Crime Scene Investigation,” but I digress.

    When these two unrelated events collided in my drained brain, I realized that in just a few minutes, I would be the buffoon carrying the smallest paper cup in the store to the drink machine, filling it with the top capacity of two ice cubes and a thimbleful of water. And that I would have to make numerous trips to the drink dispenser, pressing that little “water” tab next to the lemonade tap, over and over, until I could satisfy my quench during my meal.

    And I wondered to myself, when I take that telephone survey, how will they ask about that experience?

    Did you order a soft drink with your meal? Press 1 for yes, or 2 for no.

    Did you know that the refills are free, you big spender? Press 1 for yes, or 2 for no.

    But why, when I order water, do they insist on finding the smallest cup in the building and offering it to me? I was hot, I was tired, and I was just as thirsty as the next customer!

    Do they assume that all water drinkers are on a diet, and therefore need less to drink?

    Is it a mark of shame, to carry the smallest cup through the dining room? Is it to make an example of me before the other paying customers, to show them what will happen if they give up their high-calorie soda-drinking habits?

    Is it so that the minimum wage employees, who care less, can keep a careful watch out for anyone illegitimately filling that cup-of-shame with Mountain Dew? Thus making it a “loss-prevention” mechanism to prevent the caffeine from dispensing to the wrong customers?

    If so, why not make a special cup with bright colors on it; print across it “I am a cheapskate! I asked for water!” Perhaps using a special electronic sensor and radio frequency technology, the drink vending machine can sense when the cup approaches an incorrect faucet, and ring a bell or sound an alarm? Or why not just issue a special triangle pointed hat, to be placed on the head of every water-drinking customer, to more easily identify them (by which I mean me and that other guy)?

    Is that what it will take to get me the larger cup, so that I can drink a tall glass of ice water with my food?

    What do they think they are proving?! And at what cost of annoyance to the customer?!

    And when I finish my meal, can I redeem my water cup for a small order of popcorn chicken? No, wait, better not do that… I’ll just get thirsty again.

    So I don’t understand this annoying trend of issuing a diminutive drinking device to customers who wish not to inflict upon their bodies drinks other than (mostly) natural, (almost) clean, (kinda) pure water.

    I tell you, it’s enough to drive a man to drink! I’ll take a large Sprite!


  5. Have it your way

    March 14, 2009 by Ryan

    Yes, your honor. I’ll be happy to explain to the court what happened.

    February 14, 2001, was our first Valentines together. And being the romantic that I am, I reasoned that all the restaurants would be full that day, so we should do something simple for a V-Day dinner, and go to someplace fancier on a different night when it would be less crowded.

    Yes, your honor. She did willingly agree to go along with the plan. And with that logic, that is how we ended up eating at Burger King.

    When the court stops laughing, may I remind them that I am a witness here today, to testify about what I saw – not to stand trial for my own foolish actions?

    Thank you, your honor. We had ordered our meal, and were two of three people dining in the restaurant that evening. We were engaged in conversation, and barely noticed as another couple entered through the front doors and drifted toward the counter, where they stopped and studied the menu, carefully weighing their own dining options.

    A few minutes later, two young ladies came in the same front door of the restaurant. One of them recognized the young man. I do not recall the exact conversation, but the best I can remember, it went like this: She called his name – loud enough so the entire restaurant had her attention. She hurried up to his side, all the while loudly saying, “I thought I recognized you!” She had now reached the vicinity of his immediate person, set her hand on his shoulder. Though she was well within a range that he could hear her in normal volume, she increased her volume yet again, and continued, “YOU LOUSY NO-GOOD TWO-TIMING CHEATING” and then continued the rant using words that, as a religious man, I am uncomfortable repeating.

    Her speech continued at full volume, as she called him many names that would make a sailor blush. One of the things that she mentioned that stood out to me was “…AND I HAVE TO FIND OUT ON VALENTINES DAY THAT YOU…” Neither the young man, nor the young woman who had accompanied him to the restaurant, seemed surprised by any of this. They knowingly looked at each other, and began walking, arm in arm, back through the restaurant and out the front door. The vocal girl followed one step behind them, continuing to yell loudly her complaint. The other young lady, who had accompanied Miss Conversationalist into the restaurant, was somewhat embarrassed by all of this. She had stayed standing by the doors, and looked like as the parties exited that she would take the roll of trying to mediate the situation – perhaps make sure that no one would become injured, and unsuccessfully attempt to calm down her bigmouthed friend.

    Immediately after their departure from the building, everyone – staff and diners – was stunned silent. After a few seconds, I turned toward the counter, and called out with a loud voice so that all could hear, “I think they will have their order to go.” That ice-breaking comment brought smiles to all, and everyone resumed their previous actions.

    There was one more interesting piece to this story. Several minutes later (at least five, perhaps closer to ten), the broken-hearted sweetheart returned. She poked her head in the doors, and called again in a loud, but more mellowed voice, “Hey everyone. I wanted to apologize. I’m sorry,” she said. After a brief pause, she continued, “THAT MY EX-BOYFRIEND IS A TWO-TIMING SNAKE…” and continued with a rant similar to the one already demonstrated. Her friend reappeared, embarrassed again, and pulled her out the door to take her to safety.

    And that, your honor, was the memorable experience we had on our first Valentines date. Ah, amour!


  6. I’ll take the Number 5 meal for 1010, Supersize-it for 300 more!

    March 11, 2009 by Ryan

    Warning: When I read this, I became a little mad. Maybe it was because Daylight Savings Time has disrupted my sleeping patterns. Or maybe my gut tells me that this plan will needlessly cost fast food restaurants time and money, which they in turn will pass on to the people who frequent them.

    In short, Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah wants chain restaurants to post on menu boards how many calories each item contains.

    For what purpose? He explained to his fellow House members about the habits of average Americans this way. “American adults buy a meal or a snack from a restaurant five times per week on average and spend 48 percent of their food budget on food away from home, almost $1,078 per person annually. Unfortunately, we have also seen the toll diseases such as obesity and diabetes have taken on society.”

    I am furious at the thought that these people, who most likely won’t step foot into a fast-food place, want to add more intrusion of the federal government into the operation of private businesses. Is there a public outcry for such a thing? If so, then restaurant owners will respond by putting this information on the menu board, or else the public will vote with their wallets and eat elsewhere. But an act of congress to interfere, costing every restaurant money to comply, just because someone thinks it sounds like a good idea?! Very bad idea. The return on investment will not accomplish a thing toward making people eat healthier.And where does it stop? Will we require listing cholesterol, fat, and sodium next? How big will these boards have to get?

    Here is the link to the story.


  7. Hold the Tomatoes

    June 16, 2008 by Ryan

    I just wanted to take a moment to thank the Food and Drug Administration, and all the fast-food places, for pulling tomatoes from the market. I am one who does not enjoy eating tomatoes. I think it is a texture thing, because I do like ketchup and salsa. Except when the salsa has thick tomato chunks, then I don’t like those.
    Trouble is, when I order at a fast food place, I always forget to ask for “no tomato.” And so I end up opening my sandwich and pulling them off of my order.
    But since everyone has become afraid of tomatoes and stopped serving them, I have not had to worry. I forgot to mention to the folks at Burger King that I wanted no tomato, and I didn’t get any! Taco Bell made me up a fantastic soft taco, and there was not a tomato chuck anywhere inside of it.
    So I see this whole “no tomato” business as a positive trend. But I have a feeling it will be for a “limited time only” and then back to normal soon. I’ll enjoy the promotion while it lasts!


  8. What do you do here?

    April 29, 2008 by Ryan

    Our small group had just finished watching a folk-dance performance, and stopped at a nearby fast-food restaurant. We took our place in the line. There were only three small groups ahead of us, and we didn’t even fill the switch-back rails to halfway. It didn’t look like it would take very long to reach the counter.

    As I was visiting with other people in our group, and didn’t notice (until my wife pointed out) that we had been talking for about 10 minutes and had hardly moved. They then decided to go and sit down, leaving me alone to place the order.

    After another five minutes, I reached the counter. I began ordering. First, a chicken sandwich, then a baked potato, and then – when at once the woman taking my order walked away. I was left standing there, mouth open, ready to give the next piece of the order. I turned around and faced the people behind me (who had also noticed that the clerk was gone), shrugged my shoulders, and jokingly apologized that I had no idea what I said to offend her.

    She returned about two minutes later, and politely said that they had no more potatoes tonight. I continued ordering, and after a few more items were entered, someone from the back called to her. She again left me standing there, waiting to tell her my last few remaining items from my order. After she finished answering someone’s question, she returned, and concluded taking my order.

    I payed, and stepped down the counter to receive my food. She filled my drinks and the one ice-cream cup, and then moved on to take the next customer’s order. My attention turned to a nearby employee, and as I watched him, I learned that his apparent job duties were to wrap up the burgers and retrieve the fries and chicken nuggets.

    He finished up his duties, loading up my tray with the food, and was about to walk away. I stopped him, as I noted that I had not yet received a chili. He glanced at my receipt and my tray, and agreed. He called over to the cashier, interrupting her current customer, to inform her that I needed chili. He then stepped just slightly out of the way, so that he would not be directly in front of me, and proceeded to stand there, waiting around for another burger to come down the line. What makes this scene most amusing is that the pot of chili, the ladle, and the bowls were directly behind this employee. He only needed to turn 180 degrees, pick up the bowl, and take care of the situation.

    I didn’t do this, but I wish now that I would have thought to engage this young man in some “small talk.” I would have asked the employee, “What is it that you do here?” He probably would have answered something like this: “I wrap up the burgers as they come down the line.” If I had pressed for more fascinating detail, he probably would have answered that he fills the fried food orders. Maybe he had other duties like sweeping floors or wiping tables periodically.

    Any of those answers however would not have been the correct one. Those answers would all be describing his job duties. The correct answer to my question should have been, “I serve the customer!”

    This employee was so focused on his individual duties that he completely ignored the paying customer standing in front of him! He did not look for opportunities to help his fellow employee at the cash register and do a little extra work. As a result, the cashier was overworked and not able to keep up with the order taking. Eventually she broke away from her current customer and provided me my order of chili, but only after I had to wait and watch the burger wrapper stand in place looking around.

    It made me wonder. When I report to work, and I coming to do a job, or am I coming to serve the customer? Am I willing to take a little bit of the load off of my coworker’s plate, so that together we can serve the customer more efficiently? Or am I standing in my own little world, concerned only about the few tasks that I have been specifically assigned? Do I use my spare time to learn someone duties, so that I can educate myself and be a benefit to them and the rest of the company?

    I learned a lot from that burger-wrapper employee. Whoever you were, I thank you for the lesson!