Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Denny's Rumor

Place: Retro Diner
Lunch: Some sort of Philly cheeseteak (no peppers), fries, Coke

Retro Diner is some locally owned place in a slot at one of those uppity outdoor lifestyle centers, the kind with odd shops, lawyer offices, and apartments.  And a Super Target.  Of course.

They have awesome counter seating.  And no customers.  I was the only customer there during my entire lunch.

The cheesesteak came with liquid cheddar (you have the option of that or regular Swiss) on a lovely buttered and toasted hoagie roll.  The fries were perfectly cooked crinkle cuts.  If I had a bottle of Arctic Circle fry sauce on me, it would have been perfect.

Five weeks to Utah.


Rumor has it we're getting a Denny's again.  The rumor has been spawned by the new Denny's signs at the Love's truck stop.  It's still 'rumor' because their big highway LED readerboard said "DENNY'S OPENING TUESDAY OCTOBER 19" on Monday and Tuesday.

Didn't happen.

Then it said "DENNY'S OPENING WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 20" on Wednesday.

Didn't happen.

Then it said "DENNY'S COMING SOON" Wednesday afternoon and this morning.

I'll believe it when I see it.

We haven't had a Denny's in this market for probably a decade.  The route that got us this one isn't very simple.  Flying J went bankrupt.  Pilot acquired the Flying J chain out of bankruptcy.  Pilot already had a truck stop near our old Flying J.  The FTC made Pilot sell some of the conflicting truck stops.  They sold them to Love's.  Loves took the full-service restaurant chunk of the property and turned it into a Denny's.  Actually, Pilot has an agreement with Denny's to convert their restaurants to the Denny's brand, so this may have already been in the works when Loves bought it.

The long empty fast food chunk of the property, once a Hardee's, is still empty.  I wouldn't mind them putting a Hardee's in again, but it's probably not feasible because Flying J eliminated the drive-thru lane when they reworked the building and landscaping after Hardee's closed.

We had three Denny's when I moved here.  They were all old and poorly maintained.  One of them was kind of cool because it had never been remodeled and still had orange vinyl seats right up to the day they demolished it.  One of them closed after being the scene of a brutal murder.  That building is now a pricey Italian restaurant.  The weirdest Denny's conversion I've ever seen was in Illinois or Ohio, I think.  They turned it into a Wendy's.  One very odd looking Wendy's.

It's been at least three years since I set foot in a Denny's.  I recall that I wasn't impressed the last time.  Denny's, like most of the family restaurant segment chains, sometimes have a good after breakfast menu, and sometimes don't.  On that occasion, they didn't.

But it's right on my work commute route, so I'll probably have breakfast there once in awhile.

Assuming it ever actually opens.

Friday, October 15, 2010

86th Street

Place: Quizno's
Lunch: Mesquite chicken with bacon (no tomato), Lays potato chips, Dr. Pepper

There's a story about how I ended up here. 

Yes.  Really.

I started off the lunch hour at the McDonald's at the top of 86th Street.  I was in a Filet-o-Fish mood.  So I go in and get in line behind a cop, one of many cops who have converged on this particular McDonald's.  But the rest of them are already eating.  It's just us up front.

We stand there.

And stand there.

And stand there some more.

Nobody's working the counter.

There's employees, and they know we're there, but nobody cares.

So after about five minutes, I give up and walk out.

I open the sunroof and head south on 86th Street. 

Pass by Planet Sub.


Burger King?


Village Inn?



No.  The cats would never forgive me if they found out I didn't bring them some.


I don't eat at Culver's. They have awesome food and friendly service and cook everything to order and I don't eat there.  Unless the Northwoods Walleye sandwich is available (seasonally for Lent).  But never otherwise.  Makes perfect sense, doesn't it.


That's a good idea. I could have lunch in the car while listening to the NHL channel.  Oops...just passed it by.

Incredible Pizza?

I don't eat there anymore.  The manager (or somebody) tried to get me to put my e-mail address in their fish globe.  I didn't want to.  He was really pushy about it.  So I quit going there.

There's another McDonald's.

I'm no longer in the mood for McDonald's.

Chinese buffet?



Maybe...No, wait...That Wendy's closed like five years ago.

There's that lot that another McDonald's used to be on.  The franchisee needed to rebuild the old Mansard structure to renew his franchise agreement, but he and the city couldn't agree on building positioning and landscaping, so he told them to take a flying leap and boarded it up.  It sat there, a boarded-up eyesore, for like five years before Kum & Go bought it.  Kum & Go was already operating on the neighboring property, but they've demolished both structures and are using both lots to build one great big Kum & Go.

(Kum & Go is a convenience store chain that was started in a rural community by a couple of families who were apparently very ignorant to sexual innuendos.  The idea was a take on the dinner call 'Come and Get It', and they changed the first letter of 'Come' to 'K' because the founding familes' last names were Krause and Gentile, and that was a way of incorporating their initials.  Then they changed "Kome" to "Kum" so people would understand how to pronounce it.  This is far more than you ever wanted to know about the subject.  And I'm still driving down 86th Street, jaded as ever about lunch.)


I ate there yesterday.


Not THIS Hardee's, no.  Besides...I'm mad at them for not bringing back the chili cheese Thickburger for fall.

I wish we had a Freddy's.  I would have just gone there in the first place.  They're heavily promoting chili right now.  And they have a pretty good chili currently (they used to have a different chili that I didn't like).

At this point, we've come to the end of 86th Street.  The street continues, but becomes 22nd Street from here forward.  I'm not going up there...there's just another Culver's and another Arby's.  Oh...and Taco Bell.  The problem with Taco Bell is that I order too much food.  It's like I order three things and it's only like four dollars.  Only four dollars???  I can't JUST spend four dollars for lunch!  So I end up ordering and eating way too much and I'm miserable the rest of the day.

So I turn right on Univeristy and end up at Quizno's.

I think they've made their bread smaller again.  And they have a new decor with green, purple, and orange walls.  The only thing on the walls is great big cartoonish words.  "Savory Soups".  "Fresh Salads."  "Stupid Subs".  Or something like that. It's really awful.  Like a cave with graffiti.

I could have gone home, I suppose.  I made the most incredible grilled cheese sandwich earlier in the week.  It had four slices of Tillamook medium cheddar.  It was awesome.

It's too nice a day to be stuck in the office.

But that's where I'll be anyway.