I spent over a dozen years working in restaurants: mostly local places, and a small handful of chains. When viewed from the inside, the differences are astounding.
Scenario A: The food on your plate has been manufactured by food scientists. It has been formulated for maximum appeal (using fat, sugar, salt), and maximum profit (using cheap product, mass production, and tight portion controls). Most likely, a factory or warehouse has processed most of the elements on your plate. Much of it has arrived frozen and will be heated by a microwave. A few finishing touches may be added to make the plate appear fresh-cooked or from-scratch, but really, you are eating a glorified TV dinner.
Scenario B: The food on your plate is fresh, from-scratch, and cooked to order. The walk-in has a whole wall of fresh produce, and another with primal cuts of raw meat. The dressings are house-made, heck, the mayo is house-made. The owner, the managers, the head chefs invest 60, 70, 80 hours a week or more into their "baby". Heated discussions are had over the best vendors to use, the right spice for that vinaigrette, the best seasonal options for the new menu. Cooks and servers have their opinions, too, they lend to the discussion, as this restaurant is a growing, evolving, living place. Yes, profit is a goal here, but at the best of these places, it is only part of the goal -- alongside with the creation of a beautiful space and delicious food.
In other words, friends don't let friends promote chain restaurants.
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