A recent thread on news-of-the-weird site FARK.com offers a 600-plus-message blast of insight into what Americans are nostalgic for when it comes to bygone restaurant chains.
It turns out that when you ask a national audience “What was your favorite restaurant chain that is no longer around?” you get a torrential outpouring of emotion and memories. Many recollections, of course, are burnished to a mirrorlike state by intense nostalgia, and they pertain not only to long-gone restaurants, but also to chains that have shrunk, chains that have changed, and chains that are doing fine but don’t happen to have a location near where the comment submitter happens to live.
Intense nostalgia for kid-friendly chains accounts for much of the traffic, with the old incarnation of Shakey’s taking a lion’s share of the memorializing:
Shakey’s was always awesome. Back in the old days, when they had long plank tables, and served root beer on tap, played old B&W Keystone Cops, etc on a grainy 16mm projector.
The new buffet-style megaplex version with 5000 kids running around, not so good.
A chain called Farrell’s gets much love, as well:
Farrell’s opened near my house just before I turned six. My mom took me and a friend there for my birthday. Oh, my god. I hid under the table.
“LADIEEEES AND GENTLEMEN! Stop your eating, stop your drinking, because right over here we have DALLYMO, and she’s SIX YEARS OLD! So on the count of three we’re all going to sing Happy Birthday!”
Oh, and they also had the Zoo, with the drum pounding and the siren wailing and the waiters running up and down with the concoction on a stretcher. And the Pig Troughs. And the sarsparillas. And the Tin Roof Sundaes!
Some folks took the opportunity to castigate chains for turning their back on specific coveted bygone dishes:
And WTF is up with chains that ignore their best products? McD’s should have the damn McRib 24/7/365….I went to a McD’s in TX with no shakes and a Carvel in NH with no soft serve, what the hell were they thinking?
Hells yes! And what’s up with them no longer serving McPizza?!
Others remember restaurants less for their food or concept, and more for the fact that they used to work there when they were in school:
Definitely Burger Chef.
I worked there for all 3 years of high school, was made night manager in 12th grade and was able to hire my girlfriend and all my friends. We partied in there on the weekends afer hours.
We once cooked up a 5lb burger, froze it and played hockey with it.
My parents still say that all the food my brother and I gave away to our friends is why they closed.
All in all, it’s an awe-inspiring memory dump that will almost certainly stir long-dorment memories in those who read it. And if you’re from Madison, Wisconsin, that may well mean Brat und Brau:
If there’s anyone from Madison, WI on this thread: Brat und Brau. All the free popcorn you can scoop for the kids! Plastic pitchers of beer for the parents! Bratwurst for everybody!