Friday, February 19, 2010

Fridays At Ollie's

Ollie’s … it was a chain, it’s not a chain, but it looks like a chain. Let me explain the restaurants that never changed their names.

The place across the river is my favorite dining-out spot; it’s that for a lot of people and it’s hard not to find someone I know. A family restaurant, clean, with good food and a nice atmosphere, locally owned and well-run with a big menu and people who have worked there for years.

That’s this Ollie’s. But there are many across the country, totally unconnected, linked only by their names. They each bought out the local Ollie’s franchised restaurants when the places went under. Why buy new signs? Why change a known name? Let’s just keep going, fix up the menu, adapt to what we think will work and sail ahead.

Chain restaurants are reliable: you know exactly what you will get, right down to the last pickle. Mom & Pop operations are different; they know what the locals like and while there are regular dishes that don’t change, M&P can change in a moment without asking permission from headquarters out in Some Faraway City.

Chain restaurants return 14% of their income to the local area; mom & pops return 47% to the local economy. That’s the biggest reason I choose Ollie’s across the river. But it’s a nice place, it’s comfortable, and it’s far from the Interstate. Maybe someday I might find another of these and see how its owners have worked their place.


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