Chains, They Are a Changing
I wasn’t crazy about Patch.com at first—does Brooklyn need more neighborhood-centric obsession?—but I’ve come to love its hyperlocal approach, particularly for towns that wouldn’t otherwise be blogged about. (The Carroll Gardens crime blotter is also fun and is fond of using the word creeps–who knew a woman was knocked to the ground but not robbed on my corner? Also, I'm always shocked at the amount of cash people are carrying when they are mugged. Is it normal to have hundreds of dollars on your person?) Like Woodbridge, NJ where I find myself more often than one might imagine. It’s the epicenter of chains in their natural environment. If you drive (and you’ll need a car) ten miles in any direction, you will find just about every restaurant you’ve ever been deprived of in NYC. An embarassment of riches.
For some unfathomable reason, Woodbridge has not had an Olive Garden. This will soon be rectified, but more importantly the Woodbridge Mall will also be receiving the lesser known Darden brand, Bahama Breeze. Thankfully, Patch has photos of the construction process. I will so be there for the October opening and the mall’s 40th anniversary celebration.
Meanwhile, Wendy’s is getting a makeover and has built a new prototype that includes a lounge area with a fireplace, open kitchen (no chef’s table?) and a Wi-Fi area. And I was so looking forward to a retro re-introduction of those tabletops with the olde-tymey newspaper design.
Do not think that chain revamps don’t play a role in decision-making. Since I get a four-day weekend this Labor Day I have been scheming potential destinations. After a quick skim of the NYT’s travel section, my eyes popped out when I saw the recent, “36 Hours in Bar Harbor, Maine.” I know nothing about the coastal town other than that it was the inspiration for Red Lobster’s new style. Now I feel the need to compare the original with the interpretation. A nine-plus-hour drive, though, it’s probably not happening.
Photo credit: Lorence's Kitchen