12/26/08

'burb food


it's been a sorrowful week of holiday dining, as told by the amount of 'burb food i've had. ("'burb food" is defined as "a dining experience that's completely interchangeable." if you had the jalapeño poppers, but you don't know what restaurant you were in, that's 'burb food. if you know you had the jalapeño poppers at applebee's, but you don't remember what city you were in, again, 'burb food.)

at this point, i would settle for imported 'burb food. ("imported 'burb food" is food that was once served at a restaurant so unique, people would wait in line for it, but whose memorability has been franchised away. for example, potbelly or bar louie.)

one of my favorite articles on the lack of specialness among chains was from TIME when bennigan's closed. or was it houlihan's? i forget.

it's a challenge for brands to retain the qualities that made the original location unique. one of my all-time favorites is lambert's, home of the throwed rolls®. labert's has 3 locations (sikeston, MO; ozark, MO; and foley, AL - none of which can be mistaken for, say, cleveland). and they're famous for throwing your rolls to you. pretty simple shtick, but it's unique enough to garner them national press coverage and a rabid fan following.

one of founder norman ray lambert's golden rules is, "always offer guests at least one service they can't receive anywhere else."

it's a rule brands should follow, regardless of size.

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