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Get Culverised

The new Restaurants & Institutions' "2009 Consumers' Choice in Chains" report has been released. Yes, stop the presses.

The favorites by age is kind of interesting, though. Gen Y and Boomers are crazy for P.F. Chang’s for a variety of reasons—cleanliness, service, reputation, atmosphere—while the pan-Asian chain doesn’t even score with Gen X, my people (let’s just say I fall somewhere in the rambling 27-41 range). We are the frumpkins, apparently who can’t get enough pizza and pasta: Carrabba’s, California Pizza Kitchen and Macaroni Grill, all highly rated. I tend to think it’s because the Gen X’ers have the most kid-friendly needs.

Clearly, P.F.Chang’s is onto this, as they along with the Cheesecake Factory, introduced children’s menus this very summer. When I hear Baby Buddha's Feast all I can envision are bald kids with little potbellies.

On the other end of the spectrum, The Olds love Culver’s, which is new to me, and Golden Corral, which I’ve just started seeing commercials for but suspect doesn’t exist in these parts. This is all I need to know about Culver's: "Step into a Culver’s and you’ll experience fresh, delicious food served with a great big side of friendly smiles and warm hospitality. That’s what it means to be Culverized."

P.F. Chang’s has eluded me for some time. I vow to give them another try despite the disconcerting scene I faced on my one and only attempt at Saturday night dining in Hackensack (the Northwesterner in my can't hear that without thinking hacky sack). The restaurant is on a strip with upscale chains like Rosa Mexicana, valet parking was present, as were lots of bronzed ladies with long hair and exposed leg. We were quoted an hour and a half wait (I didn’t realize you could reserve) and I almost stuck it out to absorb the spectacle of the black hipster bartender with a Sanjaya poofed mohawk. That’s how they roll in these flashy Bergen County ‘burbs.

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