Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Why I Stopped Going To Restaurants

Restaurant meals are not very healthy.  They are hugely expensive, and the overall experience is depressing and unfriendly.

I have cut way back on restaurant meals as of late.  Prices have skyrocketed through the roof, for starters. A new sub sandwich shop opened up on the island.  They used to make huge meat-laden sandwiches (it is part of a local chain) but nowadays, the bread is more of a bread stick than a baugette.  And the ingredients are a little skimpy as well.  A friend of mine went there for a "BLT Sub!" and got home and found a thin roll of bread with a few lonely strips of bacon in it.  No "L" and no "T" - he had to ride his bicycle all the way back there to get his missing ingredients.  How crazy is that?  How desperate are we for help that someone doesn't get that a BLT is more than just bacon?

We went there for a sub and it was $15 with a bag of chips.  With the 15% "tip" (for counter service - the smallest tip the signature pad suggested!) and tax, it was close to $20.  $20 for a foot-long sub.  You know it wasn't that long ago that Subway had foot-longs for $5.  What the fuck happened?  And like our friend's experience, the sub was, well, mediocre.  It was like those pre-made sub sandwiches you find wrapped in cling-film (Saran Wrap) out by the "deli" at Walmart.   Just a sad sandwich.

Now, I am not engaging in Pepsi-for-a-nickel-ism.  It was just a few years ago that $20 got you a nice sit-down dinner at a restaurant, not some thin sandwich missing half its ingredients.   Inflation has skyrocketed, and yet wages are stagnant but corporate profits are over-the-top.  Maybe we should stop giving them our money.

But that is not the end of it.  The overall dining experience at any restaurant these days is gruff and impersonal, if not outright hostile.  And that's just the staff, too!   The Internet is rife with videos of people harassing and even assaulting others in restaurants so they can make a political point or a "Tick-Tock" video.

friend of mine runs a restaurant here on our island, and it has the best fried shrimp - fluffy and big and not greasy and oily like some fried shrimps are.   We go there and get some shrimp to go and a glass of wine and have a picnic on the beach.  I went there the other day and a "new guy" was behind the bar, stacking dirty glasses all along the length of the bar.  There were four tables seated and he said, "We're really busy, as there are only two of us here," even though I could see there were a total of three employees and he wasn't doing jack shit other than fussing with dirty glasses.  I waited ten minutes and left as he didn't want to take my order.  I feel bad for my friend as I am sure he isn't aware his new employee is turning away customers.

But with the "labor shortage" that is the new norm - restaurants are getting whatever employees they can get, even the ones who were caught stealing at their former employers or who have obnoxious or unfriendly personalities.  You take what you can get in this market, I guess.

Then there is television.   You go to a restaurant to eat and enjoy the companionship of your friends, not to watch Fox News or Newt Gingrich selling fear.  But apparently, most restaurants feel you really, really want to digest your food with a side-order of angst from Tucker Carlson.  Talk about an upset stomach!   It just isn't worth going out anymore.

Yet some people do - that's all they do - because they are "too tired" to cook or do dishes.  The $4.50 beer at the local bar is now close to $10 - enough to buy a six pack of even a fussy beer, if not a half-a-case.   While the cost of food in grocery stores has gone up, you can still make meals at home far, far cheaper than you will pay at even a fast-food restaurant.  And I am not talking about dimes and pennies here, but dollars.  The cost of eating at a restaurant is easily double or triple or quadruple that of making food at home.

So, what's not to like?  Bad food.  Shitty service.  Crappy ambiance.  Blaring televisions.  High prices, Rude staff.  Ruder patrons. What's the upside?  Stuffing your cake-hole with cold french fries?

Then there is the food.  Restaurant food is generally unhealthy food - high in salt and fat content.  They fry their steaks in butter, which is why they are so "yummy."  The sodium levels of most entrees are off-the-charts.  And the "sides" are usually things cooked in a deep-fryer - french fries, onion rings, or whatever.  Yea, it is fun to have these things once in a while, but as a staple of everyday eating, they are poison for your body.  And yet, some people use restaurants as their kitchens!

So, I basically don't need any reason to go to a restaurant.  And if the experience is going to be hostile and rude, as well as expensive and disappointing, that seals the deal.

I suspect in the coming months, as the recession takes hold, you may see things turn around.  Restaurants will have a better selection of people to hire from.  Meal specials and lower-priced entrees will reappear.  This obsession (one person calls it an "addiction") or having meals delivered, will falter as people start to realize their credit card balances are climbing and have no way to come down.

This is a good thing.  The tree needs to be pruned.  We need people to feel that a job is not some right and that money is indeed precious.

And whether we like it or not, it's going to happen, just as it has happened like clockwork, about every ten years or so, since the dawn of civilization.

Maybe then, it will be safe to go back to restaurants!