catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 8 :: 2007.04.20 — 2007.05.04


The ABCs of fake family dining

We find ourselves repulsed by urban sprawl.  It’s a common angst.  Cliché, really to wax on about the sheer inefficiency with which Greed continually paves over space, leaving us with a squalor of parking lots, abandoned malls, and the suffocating necessity of the automobile. 

Yet here we are, in this brave new landscape—an endless vista of neon marquees and signature signage.  This is America, and as time marches on, small businesses become more rare and precious, and large chains become the norm.

I and my little family have deemed ourselves Dining Patriots, because major restaurant chains, both national and regional, are alive and well, and all around us.  Rather than continuing to avoid these facilities by whatever means necessary, we have decided to stop our whining, and partake of that which is at hand.  When in Rome, do as the Romans do.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Love the one you’re with, etc.

We have decided, in a very snobby, cosmopolitan, performance art sort-of-way, to eat our way through the alphabet, at Fine Family dining establishments.  We hope to accomplish this in one year’s time, by having “Thursday Night, Eat Out Night.”  Here are the requirements for Fine Family Dining:

Primary Requirements:

  • Table service
  • Laminated drink and/or dessert ads on the table
  • Kids menu w/ crayons

Things to keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Killer Margaritas
  • Bottomless Nachos
  • Aggressive hospitality
  • Thematic interior decor (things screwed to the wall)
  • Exploding and/or overflowing chocolate dessert of some sort
  • Signature appetizers

The excursion must be documented by having our server snap a photo of us at our table.  Photos of the exterior of the restaurant are taken to help us remember where we were. 

We like to call it Fake Fine Family Dining, because it’s fun, and because we presuppose that anyplace that welcomes families just can’t be “Fine” or fancy.  So far on our journey through the alphabet, we’ve been met by both the extremely predictable, and some “Fine” surprises.

We had hoped to eat our way through chronologically, but have found this to be impossible.  During the rare occasions when we travel together through other regions of the U.S., we will have to plan very carefully to collect all of the “Letters” we need. 

I will share with the reader A thru E, which we have managed to accomplish chronologically.  Keep in mind that each of these dining excursions includes 5pm traffic through exceedingly commercial areas.  In contrast to this, consider also the opportunity we now see, in the place where before we could see only hell-on-earth.  Every marquee a thread of inspiration!  Every parking lot a welcome mat to the capture of our next letter! We’re off now to Ohio to collect our “F”.  Wish us luck! And Godspeed you Corporate Diners!

View a slideshow of the restaurants we've visited so far! 

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