This tangent that will bring us back to the Honey Baked Ham Cafe.
Last week I had a huge craving for Boston Market.
My mind swirled with nostalgic cravings for a rotisserie chicken or meatloaf platter with the orange macaroni and cheese that always tastes more disappointing than it looks (yet you order it every time anyway).
I was surprised to to find that all of the Boston Markets in Minnesota have closed. Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota have zero Boston Markets. Wisconsin has two. Florida has 50. One for each state.
How dare you leave Minnesota when I haven’t wanted to eat you for a decade?
Somehow this brought me to a second, fast casual meat-centric chain, The Honey Baked Ham Cafe.
You should totally drink at the Rainforest Cafe.
The Rainforest Cafe inside the Mall of America is always a place I’ve wanted to go. I’ve walked by it countless times but have never ventured inside.
There’s always a crowd of people waiting outside. It’s tacky and loud. Animatronic animals shriek. The food is expensive and I’ve never heard anyone say it’s good.
The very first Rainforest Cafe opened in the Mall of America two years after the mall opened.
Back in 1994, Nickelodeon Universe was Camp Snoopy. Snoopy’s big, red dog bowl was an easy place to meet your friends. Sometimes my folks would take us to the Knott’s Berry Farm restaurant where I remember eating the best fried chicken ever. And inside the Rainforest Cafe, it didn’t just thunder and lightning, it also rained.
Ever since I saw that Office episode about Meredith trading sexual services with a supplier for a corporate discount and free Outback Steakhouse, I’ve wanted to eat at Outback Steakhouse. The episode closes with everyone in the break room happily feasting from a multitude of takeout containers. There’s no way you can watch that episode and not want to immediately go.
I’ve been waiting with bated breath to cash out my points for Outback Steakhouse.
At work we have a Facebook-like platform for recognizing our coworkers. Each month we get $5 worth of points to give away. Managers get more.
When you accumulate enough points, you can exchange them in the points store where you’ll find prizes ranging from jewelry to backpacks. There’s also gift cards to just about any chain restaurant you can imagine.
Some people hoard their points for years. Some only buy gifts for others. I cash out as soon as I get enough money to make a dent in a meal at a chain restaurant.
Upon transitioning into a more traditional 9-5 office job after moving back to the Twin Cities, I’ve become obsessed with office shows.
Office Space and The Office have a whole new meaning. Pete doing all those TPS reports, Andy putting a sandwich into his disk drive to break it so he can finally get a new computer. . .some may find these shows stressful but I find them cathartic.
Corporate (2nd season airing on Comedy Central) is like a more modern version of The Office. Sometimes it’s a little too real.
I’ve been thinking about the last episode of Corporate The Concert all week. It so perfectly and so comically depicts that pivot many of us made moving between our 20’s and 30’s. That of chasing as many activities as possible after work to being completely fine with chilling at home after work.
Someone should sponsor me to test out chain restaurant happy hours with friends. In exchange for sponsorship, we’ll eat and drink a bunch of things, after which I will post a recap (when it’s convenient for me) and even supply my own very average phone photo!
Why P.F. Chang’s?
There’s been a lot of discussion about Andrew Zimmern’s restaurant opening and Fast Company interview in which he calls P.F. Chang’s a rip-off and questions founder Philip Chiang’s Asian identity. Chiang had my favorite response to the whole shirtstorm in this Washington Post interview. He simply responds, ““I am not going to get involved in his muck. I am totally comfortable with who I am and with who I am not.”
I was also struck by local, third-generation restaurateur Edward Fong’s thoughtful response. Growing up in the south suburbs, one of my family members would occasionally invite us over for a take-out meal from one of the Fong family restaurants. It was such a treat and now I want to go back.