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Symbols of American Mediocrity

I just came back from an early lunch at Applebees and was overcome with a sense of revultion. the food was mediocre, the staff was utterly indifferent. Why do we tolerate this stuff? You walk into a McDonalds or a Whole Foods and they are almost always clean and well run. What keeps places like Applebees in business? what other businesses out there are this mediocre (or conversely, what businesses do you think are excellent)?

Thu. Apr 12, 11:28am

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I went to Applebees once and never again.

Btw, I don't think Applebees is a symbol of American mediocrity. I think it's a poorly managed chain that also doesn't invest in the quality of food they purchase/serve. Why it stays in business I don't know.

Thursday, April 12, 2007, 11:34 AM

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may i suggest writing a letter detailing your experience to the restaurant, the corporate headquaters and your local newspapers? one great thing about america is the freedom to complain when you feel you have been treated poorly or have received mediocre service. i personally write to commend and /or complain to many companies and almost always i receive at least a response. i'm not suggesting that one letter can change an entire chain restaurant's policies, but if enough people write in with similar experiences, it may make a big difference. applebees is not a fixture, it's a company that depends on the public to keep it in business.

Thursday, April 12, 2007, 11:53 AM

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I live near Times Square in NYC, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why so many American tourists make a beeline for Fridays, Applebees, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday's, etc. They can get the exact same corporate-recipe food wherever they're from, and it's not like it's a financial decision because the chains here charge the same as plenty of non-chain restaurants (our ridiculous rents are something of an equalizer in this capacity). So these businesses may indeed be symbols of mediocrity, but they have an awful lot of patrons...what does that say about the majority of Americans. Kinda sad.

Thursday, April 12, 2007, 12:00 PM

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My hubby and I travel a lot... we enjoy going to different places every year for our annual vacation.

Sadly, I've noticed more and more that whereever we go, we see the same chain restaurants!!! We usually try to seek out "local fare", and as each year passes by, that becomes more and more difficult to do...

The really unfortunate part is that because of the internet and globalization, it's not only happening in the U.S., but also around the world!

I travelled to Switzerland with my dad in 1991-- We had heard many stories from my mom about Switzerland (she studied there in the 1960s)... She told us how "quaint" the country was... I was appalled to see a "Pizza Hut delivery" vehicle!! In Paris, we saw a Burger King...

I'm sure it's even more "Americanized now that another 16 years have passed... I think I also read somewhere that many countries are now having incidences of obesity and anorexia / bulimia due to the influx of American "fast food" chains, and the accessibility to American Media portrayals of what's "trendy"....

Thursday, April 12, 2007, 1:01 PM

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Fast Food are America's WMD's that we are exporting to the world. And they will kill more people than any nuclear bomb.

Thursday, April 12, 2007, 1:17 PM

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I totally agree that the poster should write a letter to the management of the restaurant as well as corporate. Chain restaurants can serve healthy tasty food with a smile if customers demand it.

It seems to me that there is a slow growing revolt against fast food in general that will lead to better heath worldwide. WE can all help it along in many ways.

Thursday, April 12, 2007, 1:22 PM

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it is all part of the globalization plan. believe it or not, but there are some people who want things to be familiar (taste, smell, etc.) when they travel. You might miss your family, but you can be comforted by the fact that McDs is always with you.

Thursday, April 12, 2007, 1:27 PM

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please!! fast food can be eaten sensibly and not pose the health risks associated with super-sizing everything, every time. if you order enough food for 1 person and not enough to feed a family you can fit fast food into your diet/eating plan. fast food is going to kill more people than a nuclear bomb? i hope you're not serious that you actually believe that.

Thursday, April 12, 2007, 1:45 PM

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1:45- you are woefully ill informed. Fast food is a last ditch option if no others exist. But as part of a plan- are you kidding? it is devoid of nutrients that you need to lead a healthy life.

Thursday, April 12, 2007, 2:00 PM

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1:45 did not say to eat fast food for every single meal. I doubt there is anyone on this board who gets tons of nutrients in every single meal. Even people who make the best effort to eat all-natural, etc., will still have some meals that are void of some nutrients.

At most fast food restaurants, you can get salads, grilled chicken, etc. These are not devoid of nutrients. Even burgers have protein, milkshakes have calcium, etc. McDonald's has a fruit-and-walnut salad that comes with yogurt dipping sauce; they also sell apple slices with a little caramel to dip.

If you order a quarter-pounder with cheese, an order of fries, and a soda, for every meal, you would be missing many nutrients that you need. However, if you stop by, order a salad with light dressing on the side, and a grilled chicken breast on top, how couldn't that fit into your plan???

Thursday, April 12, 2007, 2:29 PM

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145 here

to the 2pm poster...thanks for sharing your OPINION. the FACT remains that one can incorporate fast food menu items into a healthy eating plan and actually derive nutrients from the food. stating that i am "woefully ill-informed" is an example of the pot calling the kettle black. do a little research before spouting off about what i or others know.

here is a link to the mcdonald's nutrition chart. just because they offer poor choices does not negate the fact that they also offer fine choices. it's like anywhere else. even in the supermarket you can find foods that are laden with salt, fat and too many calories. you have to make a conscious effort, but you can totally fit many options into a well-rounded, healthy eating plan.


Thursday, April 12, 2007, 3:11 PM

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are any of you servers? I agree with the fact that if the food was mediocre say something but unless you have been a server you should never complain about service unless it is awful. You all have bad days right? You have no idea what is going on in their personal life and it may just be a little more important than your side of ranch (which you probably dont need anyways). The server is the front man and takes the fall for the entire facility when something is wrong. If you order a medium steak is it the servers fault if the cook messed up? No! Most people forget that they are human also and tip them for shitty service that was out of their control. Everyone should have to work in the service industry once or quit complaining

Friday, April 13, 2007, 2:34 AM

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I have worked in the service industry and painted a smile on my face regardless of how I felt. Thats how we made money, your tips depend on how pleasant you are. I have often not left a tip because service was so bad and have called managers over to complain. I think the problem lies with the fact that a lot of people just don't care or take pride in their jobs. This is obvious in any customer service position. Its present everyday everywhere yo go. Can you remember the last time you made it through the day without encountering some clerk or waiter who wasn't pleasant?

Friday, April 13, 2007, 3:14 AM

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Yes, I've been a server and I've done sales at the mall during hellish Christmas times and I know that service with a smile and saying "thank you" can be done no matter how hectic it is. Most cashiers in my area seem to think it is below them to thank the customer. I just think a lot of people are not raised to be polite anymore.

Friday, April 13, 2007, 6:08 AM

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Find local places - it may not be the best food but it's often an adverture. I admit to using McDonald's while traveling - mostly for the restrooms. This is not just an American export to other countries, but the work of huge well-financed multi-nationals that want everyone in the world to get hooked on McDs and Pizza hut and Coke. They are driven by one thing - profit and demands of stockholders. So if you don't like them, don't buy there, and don't invest in them either. Sadly, the people in other countries often think we do nothing but eat fast food. And by our increases in obisity, they are partly right.

Friday, April 13, 2007, 6:13 AM

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if you want to be taken seriously in your job position and if you want to be compensated well for doing your job, you need to bring a certain level of professionalism to it. i have been a server. i have had personal tragedies on days when i had to work following receiving bad news. it is not the responsibility of the patrons i was waiting on to have to take into consideration the mood i was in before deciding if they should complain about my bad service. some people only go out to dinner for a special occassion and for customers to have to put up with an absentminded or less-than-attentive waitperson because of some personal difficulties that waitperson may be going through is a ridiculous concept. frankly, i may care on a personal level if my waitperson (or other customer service person) has been going through something difficult, but i don't care when it affects my buying experience. as an employee, a person is a representative of a company and a person should learn to leave the personal problems they may be facing at the door when that person arrives for work. it's not something that is as common today as it used to be, but the whole concept can be summed up in 2 words: work ethic.

Friday, April 13, 2007, 9:40 AM

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The reason people eat at Applebees and other chains, McDonalds and the like is because of a fear of the unknown. They know what's on the menu at these places and they know it'll be something they like and it will taste *almost* exactly the same as when they had it the last time.
Many people get stuck in a routine of familiarity and are afraid to go outside of their comfort zone (i.e. Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood).

Friday, April 13, 2007, 11:29 AM

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and, mcdonalds offers low-cost foods and the chain restaurants usually have large enough portions to feed more than one person with one entree. cost is a huge factor for many people, let's not forget about that!

Friday, April 13, 2007, 11:44 AM

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healthcare is the biggest symbol of mediocrity.

Friday, July 27, 2007, 4:49 PM

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1:45 is your ignorance bliss?

Yes I believe that fast food will kill more people than a nuclear bomb> Have you heard of heart disease? diabetes? cancer? (and yes there are links to high fat diets to cancer). When you look at the globalization of fat food it is changing people the world over, in countries people where previously obesity was a non issue.

Friday, July 27, 2007, 5:15 PM

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Applebees makes most of its income during the dinner hours, as well as weekends, so their service is directed in that direction. During the early lunch time on the weekdays, they dont really care because that's their cleaning and getting ready time.

Friday, July 27, 2007, 7:22 PM

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Not fond of chain restaraunts but doesn't Applebees offer a Weight Watchers menu?

Saturday, July 28, 2007, 9:14 AM

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I think the problem has to do with the fact that most of these types of places hire young people (who are only using the job as a stepping stone to bigger and better things) to work for them. Because they pay so poorly, only young people can afford to take these jobs because they still live at home, etc. Nothing against young people, but remember, these are the same people who are taking their cue from people like Eminem how how to "serve" people. What 18 year old really cares if YOU"RE happy???

Saturday, July 28, 2007, 9:31 AM

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I don't know why you guys are complaining so much. American Mediocrity? HAHA you have to be kidding. In comparison to other countries, this is luxury. It is absolutely wonderful service. Go so a foreign country and you will see what I mean. (Oh, and I don't mean the touristy attraction areas). Just the fact that you can get good food at a good price is really fansastic.

Saturday, July 28, 2007, 9:55 AM

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Yes Applebee's does have a Weight Watchers menu. It's not bad. And it isn't same ol' same ol'. Also, I want to agree with the poster that said it all comes down to work ethic. I work in agriculture. We cannot find people who are willing to WORK for their salary. I don't expect anyone to work any harder than I do, but most feel like if they break a sweat, it must surely be time for a break. Never mind they have only been working for 15 or 20 min! I think every one should be an employer for a while and see if they can't understand why they get fired or ragged on when they loaf most of the day. Anyone heard of a bottom line?

Saturday, July 28, 2007, 11:18 AM

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9:55 You are so right. God Bless America. At least we have food to choose from and a million different CHOICES when it comes to what we put into our bodies. Some countries don't have this. This thread kills me. The person that started it is probably someone who has a big yellow bow magnet on the back of their car and pretends to love our soldiers and our troops, and then says things like "american mediocrity". How crazy. If you don't like America, please feel free not to let the medicocre door hit you in your you know what on the way out of our free to let people be who they want to be society. Our melting pot...

Saturday, July 28, 2007, 2:09 PM

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Wait, wasn't this thread supposed to be about Applebee's and bad business practices? Yes, we all have good old democratic choices, but I'm often stuck with chain restaurants and groceries because my clients choose them. To the OP: My consistently good experiences include Trader Joe's and Aldi (run by the same corporation), Panera Bread and Olive Garden. Poor experiences include Cracker Barrel, Denny's and Red Robin. Some businesses treat their employees well, hire and fire judiciously and use best practices for customer service. Others don't. I think that's universal.

Sunday, July 29, 2007, 12:15 AM

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2:09 - you're confused. Those soldiers aren't out there fighting for their country's rights to be slackers. Those soldiers are out there putting their lives on the line, sacrificing so much- but not so that mediocre can be the standard. Somehow "Be all that you can be" kinda goes against mediocrity. Using other countries to say "at least we have it better than them" doesn't mean we shoudl be happy with our status quo. We are to set the standard, and we are to raise the standard as we PROGRESS- and I for one don't consider Applebees a sign of progress.

Sunday, July 29, 2007, 7:40 PM

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I think the last poster needs to go lived in an underdeveloped nation where he/she has no access to food and or luxuries. Then they would actually realize that our country has many options. If you don't like Applebees, don't eat there. There are plenty of other resturants but just because Americans like Applebees and or Fridays type resturants does not mean we are mediocre. And slacker or not, the country we live in has freedoms. Freedoms other countries don't have and that is what our soldiers fight for.

Sunday, July 29, 2007, 8:40 PM

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And the OP was never talking about a lack of options. She was discussing how she found applebees mediocre. The thread was never about options, so if you want to play some "we have it better than others don't complain" card, and don't try to somehow garner support by pulling troops into it.

Sunday, July 29, 2007, 10:28 PM

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You talk about selecting one restaurant over another as freedom of choice that must be appreciated because it is your American right. I don't know how to break it to you but not EVERYONE on this planet wants to have the crappy assortment of chain restaurants at their disposal. There are countries that place a priority to the shared eating experience of eating a home cooked meal with the family. It is an event to be enjoyed, and given a choice between eating in an "American" style resturant or what they have at present guess which they would choose.
Most of these narrow minded comments come from people who have never travelled. There is a world of epicurian experiences out there which you might think is unpleasant but within any given culture they are celebrated, and enjoyed. So take your artichoke / spinach dip, chicken wings, or burgers and fries and stick that you know where.

Monday, July 30, 2007, 9:38 AM

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Devil's Advocacy...

Everyone complains so much about fast food chains, and understandably, they pose a health risk on many fronts. However, a country finally having certain fast food chains is also a GOOD thing. Hear me out.

Where do you start to see these places besides the US. Major cities, developing cities. I watched a documentary on the first McDonalds opening in Russia, which was in 1990, as communism was decreasing. The fact that a McDonalds was opening there was celebrated, because it meant that finally one more area of the world could economically support this business. When fast food chains open, it means that the economy can actually finally support these type of international businesses.

So, the reason these previously quainter places are getting fastfood chains? Their economy is rising. The people have a higher ability to live in a way where they can AFFORD to spend money on fastfood, as opposed to only eating at home. Might not be healthier, but it does reflect some economic growth, which is good for a nation and the people in it.

People just need to excersise self-control.

Monday, July 30, 2007, 9:56 AM

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Isnt it that those brands are already familiar to them, among the cacophony of hoarding and billboards andstrange new restaurant names?

Monday, July 30, 2007, 12:57 PM

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9:56- +1 on self control- Fast food restaraunts are only offering us what we ask them for- if we stopped ordering fries, they'd stop serving them. If we stopped odering triple whoppers, they'd stop putting them on the menu. They have healthy options, it's just that no one orders them.

But, back to symbols of mediocrity- I'd vote for Most of GM's product line for the last 20 years. How hard is it to make a car that's better than a Honda Civic for god's sake?!?

Monday, July 30, 2007, 1:05 PM

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Yea, thanks for the info. I was living there when that McDonald's opened, and it's not true that they could finally afford it. Most people hated it, and it made them angry. The food is cheap even by their standards, and they (as well as myself) chose to spend money on more expensive and healthier and better tasting Russian food, rather than that cheap crap.

Whoever made that documentary was probably endorsed by McDonald's. In fact, I'm willing to bet on that.

Monday, July 30, 2007, 1:40 PM

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funny story, I am the OP of this thread. I recently had to meet someone at an Applebee's near Boston-- and the menu had totally changed and was great. They had salads and all sorts of interesting things. They brought in a "celebrity chef"-- which was a good move!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 11:04 AM

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