Friday, January 12, 2007

They're dead to me #1

In an homage to my man Annoyed and his "People I can do without series." I am starting a posting series of my own, called "They're dead to me." This term originated in my vernacular when Chilis took their tuna steak sandwich off the menu. This pissed me off to no end and I have only eaten there under protest since. However, since Chilis being dead to me is old news we will dedicate this initial post to another restaurant that crossed the line.

The death of a fun restaurant franchise.

Every chain restaurant is basically the same. You walk in, are seated, place a quick drink order, order appetizers, are served appetizers, order food, are served appetizers, eat appetizers, are served food, eat food, order dessert, are served dessert, eat dessert, get check, pay check, leave. This happens, obviously, in varying degrees. Aside from menu items and style of food, there is very little variation to this. In fancier restaurants this is spread out over a couple of hours. In cheaper places you can be in and out in 30 minutes or less.

One way for a restaurant to differentiate itself is with its branding or style. The Cheesecake Factory, for example, has developed a concept that drives people to order dessert. How can you go to a restaurant called The Cheesecake Factory and not order a slice of cheesecake? Higher end places are carried by their name, Jean Georges, Nobu.

Another restaurant that formerly had a significant differentiator is the Rainforest Café. The food was decent, as good as any other chain, but the atmosphere was something special. The incredible fish tanks and décor, reflecting the sights and sounds of rainforests including animatronic animals and mock thunderstorms made it a really fun place to go. It was pricy, but not ridiculous and it was worth an extra couple of bucks an entrée when you factored in the user experience.

Last week No Family of Consequence dined at the Rainforest in Orlando, and while the décor, staff, and food were what they always were. The prices had skyrocketed. An average price of over 25.00 an entrée, 2.50 for a soda and 7.99 for a kids meal tells me that the restaurant is dying and in an effort to save itself it is raising prices to try and suck as much money as possible out of its guests one last time.

It is disappointing that sometime corporate America can be so uncreative. I love tilapia, as we know from this post, but 26.99 for a tilapia dinner at Rainforest means I will never be darkening their door again. Cute frog mascot and nice fish tanks or not, they are officially dead to me. Never to be spoken of again.

No 1 of Consequence


Y said...

Are you talking about the one in Disney's Animal Kingdom? If so, you shouldn't be surprised at the high prices.

rosiegirl said...

I love this new installment.
As always, I look forward to reading your blog.