The Daily Feed: All Chains Are Not the Same

I admit it: I avoid chain restaurants. This doesn’t mean I won’t set foot in them, because I do – I’m neither perfect nor consistent on this point.  But given the choice, I would much rather eat in an independently owned establishment  than a cookie-cutter outpost of a giant corporate conglomerate.

And yet, when successful restaurants make a splash, earn a loyal following, and put out a quality product, it makes sense that they’d proliferate and enter new geographic markets. Do they then become “chains” in the traditional sense? Does chain necessarily imply a lack of quality?

A recent New York Times article notes that restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack – a “mini-chain of burger-and-custard stands” – is expanding rapidly in New York. Though I haven’t eaten there, the meat quality is purportedly high (whole muscle, no trimmings, antibiotic- and hormone-free), a welcome change from the vast majority of burger joints around the globe.

So, kudos to Mr. Meyer. My question is this, though: what is it about burgers? Why can’t we get greater access to cost-effective, high-quality “chains” that serve something else entirely?


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule.


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