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From Food Courts to Farro


Bloomberg recently published a sort of fun set of infographics (if you consider infographics fun and are tired of saying the word chart) called “The Average American Mall Explained in Six Charts.

One of the six illustrates where chain restaurants with regional names actually dominate geographically. 1. Who calls A&W A&W All American Fast Food? 2. Clearly, Dallas BBQ is missing.

A second set of charts shows that in the food court world Taco John’s has the whitest customers (85%) while Great Khan’s has the largest concentration of Hispanic diners (49%). And completing this cycle of ethnic profiling, Asians don’t really eat much at the mall but love the Nordstrom cafe more than most.

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Despite dominance in New England, I almost went to Uno for Valentine’s Day but weather trumped novelty not common sense. While planning the excursion, I discovered that the restaurant known for deep dish pies now serves farro salads and “artisan” crust pizzas topped with “house-made marinara.”

The mall food court may be dying, but casual dining chains won’t become relics without a fight. This week alone Bennigan’s declared a comeback, Red Lobster ditched off-brand pork chops for seafood tacos and “trend-forward” brown butter, Carl’s Jr.’s made craft beer-battered fish for Lent, and Pizza Hut (UK) is serving alcoholic milkshakes in Mason jars. And no, bacon-wrapped pizza doesn’t count.

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