Eat & DrinkNew York

Rise of the Chain Stores

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Whether you’ve accepted it or not, New York is becoming a city of chains. Sure the great music megastores have fallen, but in their place new contenders have sprung up  in the form of JCPenney and Nordstrom Rack. Tourists come to the city to see something new and exciting but end up making a beeline for the nearest Outback and TGI Fridays.  And now even the hipster headquarters of New York, Williamsburg is now the home to not one but two Duane Reades. With storefronts standing empty, the remnants of this years suckfest economy, chains and franchises are snapping up property to bring you overpriced amenities and slurpies.  Stoner favorite, 7-Eleven has also just announced it will open 100 new locations in Manhattan alone. I can feel the brain freeze already. Not to be elitist, I will admit to even eating at an Olive Garden in the past month. Granted my waiter was a 60 year-old man with braces, but Ill be damned if he didn’t keep those bread sticks coming. So if I’m going to have to succumb to the “mallification” of New York, here’s a few chains I wouldn’t mind springing up on the island.


Every time I see some smug NYU student sucking down a Chick-fil-a styrofoam cup on the subway, I experience an extreme pang of jealousy. The only Chick-Fil-A in New York is in the NYU cafeteria and word on the street is, it’s not restaurant quality. I say “restaurant quality” loosely, but myself and others cannot resist the southern-bred fried chicken miracle that is Chick-fil-a.  My spirit has never been crushed like it has every time I’d try and get my Chick-fil-a fix on a Sunday and cursed god when it was closed every time. New York needs a little less Crown Fried and a little more Polynesian sauce and waffle fries.


I’ve discussed my love for In-N-Out before and the wannabe’s that have been cropping up in New York, but is there some sort of petition I can sign to get In-N-Out to the East Coast? I don’t get it, are we not good enough for them? I would even take a train or bus to New Jersey if they stuck one out there. THAT’S how much I love it. Can we arrange some sort of trade, where the West Coast can have all of our White Castles and we get an In-N-Out? Five Guys has gone bi coastal, so I think it’s time for In-N-Out to step it up and be a man.

A&W Root Beer

Everyone is familiar with A&W Root Beer but only a few have been to their roadside restaurants. These guys have been around forever and I remember eating there when I was little and seeing old photographs advertising hotdogs for 10 cents. Oh the depression, good times! They serve up impossibly cold steins filled to the brim with fizzy rootbeer and a dollop of vanilla ice cream. They also have amazing foot long hot dogs and perfectly crisp curly fries. How I did not end up a morbidly obese child, I’ll never know but I’ll always have fond memories of A&W in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest.  The closest one to New York is Staten Island, but there are just some places I refuse to go.

The Melting Pot

Fondue is one of those Seventies food trends everyone thought would die out, just like Hamburger Helper and crock pots. But what those nay-sayers didn’t realize was that people will never get sick of dipping things in melted cheese. If anything our appetite for creepy cheese items has just increased, how else can you explain EZ-Cheese and Handi Snacks? I am a self-admitted fondue lover but it’s one of those things you just can’t help but look like a yuppie asshole when you do it.  That’s why a private booth is perfect for this clandestine and shameful dipping practice. The Melting Pot is a safe haven for other secret enthusiasts and offers a “feast” option on the menu that involves four courses and a complimentary bottle of pepto. You can’t even find nutrition information on it, probably because no one would ever eat it knowing the real calorie content. As they say, ignorance is bliss.

Waffle House

Ihop, Perkins, and Denny’s are all overshadowed by the breakfast giant, Waffle House. Opened back in 1955, they even have a museum honoring their fine gut-busting tradition.  As you can imagine, their menu is on the heartier side with everything coming with the option to “smother”, “cover”, and “topped” with every kind of fixin you can imagine. Their style tends to evoke the gosh-darn appeal of the Fifties and perhaps that is why they haven’t opened a place in New York.  Waffles just don’t go down the same way with a side of “your goddamn coffee is on it’s way”. Until then I’ll have to settle for making them at home while listening to Doris Day.

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Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S, left the "sixth borough" three years ago to settle in Brooklyn. After working at some daily rags, she now does writing on the side but still eats more Ramen then necessary. When she's not moving residences every 6 months, eating her way through every neighborhood, and trying every microbrew known to man, she is unsuccessfully rediscovering home economics. With her binging days behind her, she's now exploring new projects and rediscovering the city that she loves (although is still prone to sliding on her knees during a Prince karaoke set).


  1. Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap
    December 22, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I think it’s so weird how tourists will go to places and then just eat in the same places that they’d eat in back home. I’ve always said that someone could become a multimillionaire if they opened a Panda Express in Chinatown. You’d get all these yahoos who are like, “Well I don’t trust no place named Golden Dragon, but Panda Express is a place I know I like.”

  2. Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe
    December 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Their mysterious orange chicken bowl is always delicious