Lunchtime Poll

Lunchtime Poll: Independent or Family-Owned Restaurants

So I’ve noticed that I’ve begun frequenting independent or family-owned places more. Coffee shops mostly, but a few restaurants. I know that it’s from convenience, but also because I find I enjoy them more than the ubiquitous Starbucks or Olive Garden or any other chain. The family-owned or independent places do always seem to lack that sheen that chains have to their places, and not every morsel will taste delicious. Yet, the places are more eclectic and you can have that genial relationship with people who work there. Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls over Denny’s. I do like some things about the big guys, but anything that’s family-owned or independent I think will begin receiving my attention more. 

What do you think, family-owned/independent over chains or do chains have you?

10 replies on “Lunchtime Poll: Independent or Family-Owned Restaurants”

Local/family-owned, no question.

Occasionally I’ll go for a chain (if I’m in a very unfamiliar place, and have no friends around to make recommendations). More often, I’ll find something local (or a limited-location “mini-chain”).

There’s a vegetarian/vegan/omnivore-friendly place downtown called Remedy, and it’s awesome. I’m in the omnivore category, but both times I’ve gone have been with veggie-oriented friends. And I’ve ordered vegetarian items, because they do VERY well at making those items. Plus the local breakfast-all-day place (Flying Biscuit), which has the BEST omelets and pancakes. Pricier than IHOP but actually GOOD.

There’s an independant place near me called Teatro.

Oh. Muh. Gawd.

It’s been three days since I’ve been and I wish I had an excuse to go again like right now.

I’d much rather go somewhere independent than a chain. Don’t get me wrong, I eat at chain places quite a bit and have always enjoyed the food. But there’s just that random element missing. I can’t put my finger on it. It’s the atmosphere or something.

I kind of live in a land o’chains (or franchises, which are a slightly different beast), so I make an effort to frequent local businesses. That doesn’t mean I don’t still visit chains, because I do, but in the case of something like coffee, I go to the local place 9 times out of 10.

When I’m traveling, I definitely like to find the good local places most of the time. Or at least something regional that I can’t get back home. Like Steak n Shake, haha.

That said, I’m still happy that we’re getting a Panda Express here. That orange chicken, man. I don’t know what they put in their recipe, but…. ;)

For me, it’s a toss up. I do prefer unique restaurants, coffee shops, small businesses, etc., over the big name chains, but I’ve noticed that whenever Mr. Dormouse and I travel, we HAVE to get Starbucks daily, sometimes multiple times a day. Here in Seattle, we don’t go all the time, and I would much rather drink at a smaller, locally owned shop than heed the Siren’s call. I think the reason we go to Starbucks so much when we’re out of town is because it reminds us of Seattle. :)

The only time I tend to want chain food is when I’m traveling and in a hurry. Then I tend to want a known quantity for what I am getting. But if it isn’t a “I have 30 minutes to consume enough calories to run the Opifex engine for the next six hours” situation I am fairly adventurous about food, and non chain restaurants provide way more options in the exciting food categories. I’m pretty sure there aren’t any chains that offer dishes like rattlesnake and cactus pierogi, and those were quite tasty.

I really prefer family owned places. They usually have a much better vibe, and I like to keep profits in my local community. Plus I grew up with amazing mom and pop places that were owned by the parents of my classmates, so it was always kind of fun to have that little extra homey vibe walking in. Even now when I don’t know the owners or their kids, I still feel like I’m at home just a little bit.

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