Introduction: The Dining Out Phenomenon
It is no secret Americans love to eat, more importantly we love to eat out. Our fast paced society and never ending lists of daily demands makes the choice to eat out an easy one. Clearly Americans of all types, families, friends, young, old, everyone eats out.” The restaurant industry is projected to make $660 billion dollars in 2013, and there are almost a million restaurant locations” (National Restaurant Association, 2013). Society has become used to having options, when you go to a store of any kind there are always multiple variations of the same products, multiple stores of the same kind. Restaurants are no exception. Our cities are flooded with options, take-out, buffets, fast-food, and sit down restaurants are scattered through the streets, but what factors play into the decision of where to go? I am going to explore the pros and cons of chain versus local restaurants and show why local is better though my research and own experiences. The fast pace of our daily lives makes it hard to consider the behind the scenes practices of where we get out food, even though these methods impact multiple aspects of our lives in a much bigger way than one would think. Literature Review: The Pros and Cons
I went and researched the pros and cons of local and chain restaurants. After reading articles and watching videos, I found common factors that consumers accounted for when deciding where to eat. With food comes nutrition, with so many people counting calories and watching their weight deciding where to eat out can be challenging. Chain restaurants have more detailed menus with calorie count sometimes next to each option. Also, there are symbols to distinguish light options, vegetarian options, and even gluten-free options. If not displayed directly on the menu chain restaurants all have a website containing all nutritional information. Local restaurants on the other hand do not, although in general they use local fresh ingredients. Even if the calorie count may not be less all ingredients are less processed and have much less salt, butter, and sodium. Local restaurants do not have a set menu. Items can change frequently and are seasonal. Vegetarian and gluten-free options can still be ordered as long as you ask. Local restaurants can also cater to even more diet needs such as allergies since their menu items can be changed dramatically and they can even create a whole new dish on the spot. Along with health and nutrition, another factor to consider when eating out is atmosphere. Chain restaurants are themed and have a certain type of cuisine. Employees dress in uniform and have to uphold certain standards. These standards guarantee a certain level of professionalism which is always appreciated but lacks the personal touch of local restaurants. Local restaurants have fewer restrictions and can have a very inviting feel. A lot of local restaurants are family owned as well and make customers feel at home. Chain restaurants are constantly hiring and replacing employees but at family owned restaurants you can get to know who is there on a personal level. For example, when I went to Olive Garden on three separate occasions to research and observe I had a different server every time.
Not just dining environment is taken into consideration when deciding where to eat, but also environmental concerns. Chain restaurants use processed ingredients and animal products that are made in factories or in fields with crops covered in pesticides that are not only bad for the environment but our bodies. The food prepared in these kitchens are less processed, they can even be organic. Recently there has been a trend in sustainable restaurants that partake in catering their menus to dishes made from ingredients specifically for this cause. My Position: Eat Local
Chain restaurants have many appealing qualities, cost, taste, and atmosphere; these qualities however are selfish ones. The more...
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