Since the age of 16, I’ve been a ‘team member’ at several food service joints, namely Burger King, Arby’s, Papa John’s, and Denny’s. My newest job, while at a restaurant, is completely different than any previous food serving/making experience, and in a refreshingly good way. This newest restaurant is a more upscale place downtown and is owned and operated by a hard working, but kind man. And although I’ve only been there for 1 week so far, one thing I’ve sort of always known has really become clear in my mind: no one really cares about chain restaurants.
In my new joint, people who dine there almost all have a positive experience, enjoying the food, and tipping well I might add. Again, we serve a different clientele than, say, Arby’s, but just because you eat at the local Burger King, doesn’t mean you have to expect mediocre food and poor service. I think the reason I’ve seen people really enjoying themselves here is precisely because the owner really cares about his restaurant. It is his career after all, and if you’ve put so much energy (and capital) into a big project, you would be a fool not to care. And this is where I think a good local restaurant can always top a chain food place. In every chain place I’ve worked, people may care about doing a good job because they take pride in their work. Yet, I never met anyone who really cared about the chain as much as my manager cares about his store. After all, who would? If you are a general manager of a Burger King, do you think you would be that passionate about the Burger King franchise? You may be an excellent manager and follow all the procedures in the Burger King handbook, but would you feel a great sense of pride in making the same Big Mac that millions of other people around the world eat every day? Do you really care if people don’t really think the french fries you fried in vegetable oil are that spectacular?
I’m not saying all chain restaurants are horrid places to eat or work. I am just saying that even the best chain restaurant can’t hold a candle to your local eatery where the owner is passionate about his food, his restaurant, and especially his customers (and employees!).