Last night about 5 PM I was in an unfamiliar neighborhood, it was hot, I had an hour to kill and I wanted a hot cup of coffee in a place with cold a/c where there'd be no pressure to buy food. I spied a Cosi outlet on the corner and figured it would fit the bill perfectly. I go in, and there's a podium with a tiny cliplight on it and a waiter--a waiter!--hurries over and says "Table for one?" I told him I just wanted a cup of coffee. He explains that they have table service, puts the menu on the table and leaves. I look at the menu. Cup of joe? Three bucks minimum. I left and thankfully discovered a Dunkin' Donuts on the next block. It was exactly like all the other DD's in the universe, and I paid a buck and change for my coffee and finally got to relax.
My point, if I have one, is that the success of chain and franchise restaurants lies in their mastery of reliable predictability and uniformity of presentation. So why does this Cosi feel the need to go all casual family dining in this spot? I'm irritated enough that I probably won't be going there again even if I want a sit-down lunch, just on principle.