Saturday, September 23, 2017

Retro Roast Beef

Place: Rax
Lunch: Mushroom Melt, Cheese and Bacon Potato, Sprite

Ex-Girlfriend-From-Hell #1 loved Rax.  She'd want to go there any chance she got.  While their specialty was roast beef sandwiches, the big novelty for her was the line of loaded baked potatoes.  She'd just order one of those most of the time.

With 500 locations in 38 states, the chain was a slightly bigger deal then than now.  There's just eight locations in three states now, and six of those are in Ohio.

The food's still good, especially this potato.  Everything down to the interior is old school.  If you want to feel the eighties again, come on down wearing your best shoulder padded top and big poofy hairdo.

My visit got me thinking about roast beef sandwiches from days gone by.  It hasn't always been all about Arby's even if these days it seems like it.  Here's some of the rare-to-extinct names from the roast beef sandwich glory days.

Barn'rds - Ex-Arby's guy Sam Marvin started this chain in 1981 in Council Bluffs, IA.  Their buildings had a barn shape that included a silo used to prominently display their signage.  The food featured sandwiches, soup, and salads, all made fresh on site with fresh ingredients.  No pressed meat.  You'd think that would go over well today, wouldn't you.  There's one left in operation, and it's in Wichita.  We had one locally, but when it became a Subway, they took the silo down.

Kentucky Beef - KFC launched this spinoff idea in the late sixties.  The menu featured roast beef and ham sandwiches.  Their existing chicken franchisees built a hundred or so locations scattered across the country before the idea quickly fizzled out.  There were a couple of them locally.  One is still a restaurant nearly structurally identical to its Kentucky Beef days and even has the original shield signage. (Side note to locals, it’s Little John’ LJ's... on 2nd north of Euclid.)

Roy Rogers - Where you had chains specializing in burgers or roast beef or chicken, the Marriott-created chain named after the legendary actor capitalized on all three, and did all three pretty well.  The chain once had over 600 outlets across the US.  There's still about 50 of them operating in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, and New Jersey.  The chain is currently owned by the sons of a guy who helped put the concept together for Marriott's restaurant division, himself a longtime Roy Rogers franchisee.  The brothers also franchise a number of Marriott hotels.

Hardee's - Hardee's of the eighties was pretty awesome and considered to have a premium product over the typical fast food burger chains, and that included their Big Roast Beef sandwich.  It had a more buttery taste than Arby's.  You can still find it at a few Hardee's here and there, usually in smaller towns.  However, they tend to make it with their new "fresh baked buns", and something is lost in translation.

It's supposed to finally cool down next week.

I'll believe it when I see it.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Krispy Krunchy

Place: Krispy Krunchy Chicken (inside Zip's 66)
Lunch: 2 thighs, Honey Butter Biscuit, bottled water

Krispy Krunchy is the 2,000-plus outlet chicken chain you've never heard of.  That's because most outlets are in convenience stores.  Usually in sketchy older inner-city stores with bars on the windows or in old small-town mom-and-pop stores where Peggy is the cashier and her sister Mandy and her best friend Luann hang out keeping her company until the kids get out of school.  Or those ones in the middle of nowhere where everyone goes dead silent when a stranger walks in the door.  The creepy supernatural convenience store in "Twin Peaks:The Return" probably sells Krispy Krunchy Chicken.

The appeal to owners seems to be it's cheap and easy to get into.  There's no ongoing franchise just have to buy their food from them.  You already have the space, you just buy the equipment (and even there, they might let you use existing equipment if it fits their standards.)  You can put one in pretty much any situation you want. There are rare standalone and strip mall outlets, sometimes in conjunction with another food (pizza, for example).  That mom-and-pop burger joint that is the only restaurant in the food court of your local nearly abandoned shopping mall could probably add it. might make an interesting addition to a sports venue or a drive-in theatre snack bar.

But there are those who swear it's the best chicken money can buy, often drawing comparisons to Popeyes (which is, in fact, the best chicken money can buy.)  If you're lucky enough to get it freshly cooked, it has a mild spiciness to it, but what pops to me is the citrusy flavor of the marinade.  You won't taste that at all if the chicken has been sitting under the warmer too long.  Then it's just dry and bleh.

It's mid-September, and average temperatures are about 20 degrees above normal.  Why?  Because my air conditioner is broken.  I came home from my Labor Day weekend trip to find the fan blowing warm air through the Townhouse of Solitude in an impossible attempt to cool it down and the cats looking at me like "WTF?".  Did the usual troubleshooting and decided it needs professional service.  But it's September, and it should be cooling off, so why not wait until Spring to deal with it?  So that was the plan.  Except we're STILL averaging mid 80's temperatures two weeks later and will even hit low 90's this week.  I'm telling you...if my A/C was working, this wouldn't be happening.  And the second I get it fixed, it will suddenly quit happening.

So the windows are open overnight and closed during the day, which seems to keep the inside temp between a livable 72-80 currently.

So feel free to blame God's constant hatred and bullying of me for it being so hot out still.

Makes as much sense as climate change.