We wanted to fill our bellies with America
July 22, 2015 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Sizzler and the Search for the American Dream :: Inside the paper was another brick, bright yellow-orange and vacuum-sealed in plastic. We had never seen food that color before. We had never eaten anything that perfectly geometric. It sat in our fridge for days, like an unwelcome guest that never said anything. It just sat there without a word of explanation. We had staring contests every day. The cheese always won. I always had to blink.

Life in Chains is a an essay series exploring essential roles played in our lives by chain restaurants, from Eater Magazine.

Previously
posted by anastasiav (72 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
"The cheese always won."

Story of my life.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:18 PM on July 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


The Old Spag Fac story is a bit melancholy. Food and family intertwined.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:29 PM on July 22, 2015


I miss Sizzler. Never got steak, though. Stuck with the salad bar and the cheese-bread. The kids loved the place. Our Sizzler got bulldozed and a Texas Roadhouse took it's place. A downgrade.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:36 PM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


We didn't have Sizzler so much in the northeast, just Bonanza, Ponderosa and American Steakhouse all of which I loved as a kid. Then as a 15 year old I worked a busboy in one of them and my fondness waned for some reason.
posted by jonmc at 4:46 PM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Then as a 15 year old I worked a busboy in one of them and my fondness waned for some reason.

You could even say it sizzled out.
posted by item at 4:49 PM on July 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


i'm sorry jon. terrible puns are in my blood.
posted by item at 4:52 PM on July 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


As Jon said, there was no Sizzlers in the North East but they look pretty much the same as Ponderosa or Hoss's. In college, my roommates and I would not eat for the day, toke a bit and then hit the Ponderosa and all order the cheapest entree and decimate the soup and salad bar. I'm sure that they hated us.
posted by octothorpe at 4:52 PM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


They had Ponderosa in Canada and I have fond memories of it from childhood, with its bizarre semi-cafeteria setup and it's photogenically grill-marked steaks.

I made my family eat at Sizzler once since moving to the US and it was very odd. Most of the other patrons looked like they'd been there since the 60's. There was a woman with a blue beehive hairdo - and she wasn't even that old. She had clearly stepped out of a time-warp or lived in some sort of Sizzler time bubble. Also the steak was not that good.
posted by GuyZero at 4:56 PM on July 22, 2015




Sizzzzzzzzzzzzzzler.
posted by Fizz at 4:59 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jelly and banana.
posted by Mblue at 5:03 PM on July 22, 2015


there was no Sizzlers in the North East

You obviously weren't in the right places. We had Ponderosa close by in RI (Middletown), but there was a Sizzler within whining-about distance. I await Mayor Curley's response, given his dream job was to run the Texas Toast bar at Sizzler.
posted by yerfatma at 5:03 PM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was always a Golden Corral man, but, yeah, don't get the steaks at any of these places.

I love the idea of the series, about chains in people's lives, so thanks for posting this.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:08 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


My first job was at Ponderosa. I only hated the people who would send their steak back because it was tough. Of course it's tough, it cost 4.99, Including sides, salad bar and a drink.
posted by interplanetjanet at 5:09 PM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


There is a Sizzler less than three blocks away from me. It is awful beyond reason. Once a year I forget this fact and say, usually to myself, "HEY! Why don't we go to Sizzler? It wasn't THAT bad, right?"

Yes, in fact, it was.
posted by gideonswann at 5:11 PM on July 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


Sizzler is where you go when the co-worker almost nobody likes says "We really should do something to say goodbye to [co-worker nobody likes]!"
posted by infinitewindow at 5:20 PM on July 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


Any FPP discussing Sizzler requires a mandatory viewing of this All American commercial.

That certainly does go on for a disturbingly long time.
posted by brennen at 5:23 PM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


octothorpe We didn't have Sizzler so much in the northeast, just Bonanza, Ponderosa and American Steakhouse all of which I loved as a kid.

We had a Sizzler in Northeast Philadelphia, that I went to as a kid, though I can't remember why, or when. Might have been when Mom had to work overtime, 'cause it was always just me and Dad. We usually just got the salad bar, though Dad ordered their all-you-can-eat shrimp one night, at least. Then, it closed out of the blue.

Our family loved Ponderosa, though. We went down the shore on many summer weekends, and would often hit up the Ponderosa in Rio Grande (how appropriate) for dinner on Saturday, and do the buffet. Mom loved the fried chicken wings. Then, that Ponderosa closed too. There was one in Orlando, though, and when our family went on trips to Disney World, we would take a day, visit the various cheap-o attractions on I-4, and then have dinner at Ponderosa. The wings weren't as good.
posted by SansPoint at 5:24 PM on July 22, 2015


My father, a Korean immigrant, once managed a Sizzler. My friends loved it--pretty much an all you can eat thing.

I was a shit son, because I liked Red Lobster more because of those cheddar biscuits.
posted by qcubed at 5:27 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I only went to Sizzler for the toast. Now that the toast is available in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store, I can shame-eat it in the privacy of my own home.
posted by jamaro at 5:27 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, cheese seems to be a bigger thing now in Korea. Some places even ruin perfectly good tteokbokki with it.
posted by qcubed at 5:30 PM on July 22, 2015


Any FPP discussing Sizzler requires a mandatory viewing of this All American commercial.

I don't know what I just watched but I think it made me feel unAmerican for not having heard of Sizzler before today. Also a little mesmerized.
posted by sciatrix at 5:30 PM on July 22, 2015


Bulgaroktonos I was always a Golden Corral man, but, yeah, don't get the steaks at any of these places.

I have fond memories of the Golden Corral breakfast buffet on trips to Florida.

God, no wonder I'm overweight.
posted by SansPoint at 5:33 PM on July 22, 2015


qcubed, that's not your fault; Red Lobster's cheddar biscuits are freaking amazing.
posted by xedrik at 5:37 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


For whatever reason, the steak is always hideous at those places but the steak tips are amazing. I don't even like steak tips, as a rule.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:38 PM on July 22, 2015


I went to Sizzler once with my aunt and uncle, and a few other relatives...about 8 of us all together. My aunt and uncle were notorious for being frugal, so when he told me to pile a lot of salad on my plate from the all-you-can-eat salad bar so that we (all 8 of us) could share it, my 17 year old self was very, very, embarrassed. To this day, I can't think about (or eat at) Sizzler without remember that cheapskate uncle and his crazy request.
posted by KillaSeal at 5:39 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


...and now, finishing that article, it hurts, just a little.

After the divorce, mom (also a Korean immigrant), on her tiny, meagre teacher's salary, would take us, her two sons, out for dinners every now and then, to celebrate. We thought the Wendy's Superbar was one of the highlights of American cuisine--I could have chili! Tacos! Burgers! Anything on the menu, all of it definitely not Korean. Even the rice was different; it didn't taste of crisp, clean water, but of salt, and some sort of savory yellow-orange.

Or instead, we'd go to Chili's, or Red Lobster, or Old Country Buffet, where I'd gorge myself of tiny fried chicken wings and piles and piles of fried shrimp, all dipped in mashed potatoes and gravy. We didn't know that it wasn't exactly how most Americans ate those, but I ate it that way. And the soft-serve! A machine that pooped out ice cream! You could get chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, or if you were really daring, a swirl!

My brother and I are grown now. It still feels weird to be ordering for mom when we take her out to nice, non-chain places now--she has so many questions about what some things are, and she never knows what she wants, exactly, so we ask her a few questions, and then guess.

She always seems to like what we order, but sometimes we're not sure if she's just being polite; she always complains when she somehow gets to see the check, because we spend too much money on her, so she says.

She's wrong. The Wendy's meals took a bigger chunk out of her budget than these dinners do ours, which taste so much better.

But sometimes I still miss that Superbar.
posted by qcubed at 5:41 PM on July 22, 2015 [66 favorites]


After my parents divorced, and my dad met my stepmother, we'd go out to eat fairly often because she Does Not cook. For me, the local steak and salad bar place was called Bellamy's, and it was in a plaza with a Tilley hat store, a "I'm not sure I've heard of that religion before" thrift store, and various other mutable and ephemeral businesses that we never went into. There was a piano store across the street and sometimes we would go and look at the pianos. It's not there anymore. I don't think it's been there for a while.

Bellamy's was a friendly, lived in type of place. It was mostly brown. There were the brass rails and big round brass knobs connecting them, and the salad bar had a big amber and green stained glass fixture over it.

I remember always the red jello, the cubes of red jello. I don't know why it was on the salad bar - it was on salad bars at other places, too. Sometimes green, too. It was better than the jello you got at home.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 5:58 PM on July 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Any FPP discussing Sizzler requires a mandatory viewing of this All American commercial.

Why is that song not our new national anthem already?
posted by jason_steakums at 6:19 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


This just made me think of the sense of betrayal i felt as a child when I saw my second Chili's. I felt so used.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 6:24 PM on July 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Jelly and banana.
posted by Mblue


Yeah. What is up with that?
posted by sourwookie at 6:32 PM on July 22, 2015


It was better than the jello you got at home.

I am told it's made with 1/2 or 2/3 the water you'd use for Home Jell-O, so that it is both firmer and sweeter.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:34 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I've been to a Sizzler in 30 years or more (or ever, I could be confusing it with Ponderosa. If they were ever in upstate NY, they aren't now.).

However, it is deeply embedded in the banter with my oldest friend because of White Men Can't Jump.
Whenever one of us comes into a little extra cash, and offers to take the other to dinner, the sizzler dance is inevitable.

Conversely, if one us is suddenly short of money...
posted by madajb at 6:34 PM on July 22, 2015


"The cheese always won."

The cheese stands alone.
posted by Floydd at 6:34 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought this was a really sweet article. Thanks for posting it.
posted by persona au gratin at 6:47 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only Sizzler I've ever been to was in Apgujeong, Seoul.



It was awful.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:48 PM on July 22, 2015


Beefsteak Charlies. All the beer, wine and sangria you could drink and all the salad bar and shrimp.
posted by AugustWest at 6:51 PM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


The texture of the fake-marble tiles on those salad bars in the banner photo makes me nostalgic.
posted by teponaztli at 6:51 PM on July 22, 2015


I once friendship-broke-up with a person because her boyfriend would not. eat. anywhere. except Sizzler. We lived in SoCal...there are hundreds of delicious other places...but no. Once they broke up, I got back together with her.
posted by holyrood at 6:58 PM on July 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


"The cheese always won."

Behold, the power of cheese.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:20 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid we pretty much never ate out -- I vaguely remember it being explained in terms of health and so on, but really it was because my parents had no money and they found it cheaper to cook at home. Until I went to college, I think I had exactly two nice (as in, not McDonalds) restaurant meals, one a lunch with my grandmother at a cafe with amazing beef and barley soup that I can still recall, and the other a dinner at a Sizzler on some family trip.

I've never been back and I honestly wouldn't even know if they are still in business, but I still have a soft spot for the chain because of that one dinner and how exciting it was. I'm sure the food was terrible but I didn't know better and I had a great time.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:21 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Golden Corral, the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. Nothing but solitary diners. My own private Eleanor Rigby moment.

A moment I bring to mind anytime I foolishly think I'm having a bad day.
posted by Kinbote at 7:30 PM on July 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am told it's made with 1/2 or 2/3 the water you'd use for Home Jell-O, so that it is both firmer and sweeter.

This recipe used to be on the Knox Gelatin box as "Knox Blocks". I loved those when I was a kid. I think the Jell-O cognate is "Jigglers".
posted by Daily Alice at 7:39 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I visited the town where I grew up recently. The former Golden Corral is now a funeral home.
Plus ça change…

posted by goHermGO at 8:24 PM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Golden Corral. Is it just me, or does the name sound like they deep fried a petting zoo?

I enjoyed the article. Thank you for posting it :)
posted by Davenhill at 8:25 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also funny: I grew up in California, never eating out, but now my wife and I hit a fabulous steakhouse here in Seoul once ever coupla weeks.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:50 PM on July 22, 2015


We usually just got the salad bar, though Dad ordered their all-you-can-eat shrimp one night, at least. Then, it closed out of the blue.

SansPoint's dad can eat enough shrimp at a sitting to bankrupt a Sizzler. Hell yeah, SansPoint's dad.
posted by escabeche at 8:52 PM on July 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


That was lovely. My family only ate out on very special occasions so the nostalgia hits for me in a way as well.

My first restaurant job was at Sizzler's slightly more upscale competiton, The Keg. I worked there for years, first as a hostess, then a cocktail waitress and finally - as we beat down the door of sexism - a waiter. Back then all staff were allowed free salad bar and starches. I ate a lot of cheese cubes and boiled eggs in the late 80s-early 90s.

When I first started working there we wrote bills by hand and rang them through on an old NCR machine. Later the first digital ordering systems showed up. One of my coworkers quickly figured out that he could ring up four salad bars on his first table of the night - there was a nominal fee to add them to a meal, a few bucks - and then just transfer them table to table for the rest of the shift. He ran than scam for months before he was finally caught and fired.

The kitchen staff used codes all the time. "Butter on the endive" is what they'd yell when they saw an attractive woman walking by the line. Did I mention the sexism? "Counting lobsters" was code for someone slipping out to smoke a joint. The woman who ran and stocked the salad bar was different than the rest of us, we were a bunch of 17-30 year olds who were going to university and partying in roughly equal measures. She was in the same age range, but an immigrant with two little girls and a husband. Her name was almost the same as mine, just one letter different. The rest of us would be closing up sucking back Long Island iced teas or bartender's root beers and she would be heading home to her kids.
posted by Cuke at 9:29 PM on July 22, 2015 [5 favorites]




Beefsteak Charlies. All the beer, wine and sangria you could drink and all the salad bar and shrimp.

I want to go to this magical place.

Never been to a Sizzler, but I have relatives out in Kingston, where there was a Bonanza. Bunch of adults, bunch of kids running rampant at the sundae bar. Bliss.

It's kind of interesting how The Keg has reframed itself into a pretty decent steakhouse.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:52 PM on July 22, 2015


All I can say is...

I want my next chick anorexic, the winner is the thinner,
Won't have to take her skinny ass out to a fancy dinner,
Like Sizzler she got a beef we'll chew the fat...
posted by Samizdata at 11:09 PM on July 22, 2015


ew.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:16 PM on July 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


It's kind of sad that if you start them off young enough apparently a Korean kid will learn to love thick, salty food that oozes grease that everyone serves here. Most of the Koreans I know came here as adults and can't stand the stuff.

It's not just fast food or chains, either; all the fashionable pubs and breakfast joints have menus that, while they're not identical to each other, aren't appreciably different from each other either, and whatever the food item is nominally in the end it's just a way to convey fats and salt into your mouth.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:15 AM on July 23, 2015


I hadn't thought of it in years, but in my grandmother's declining years, she always wanted to go to a chain buffet restaurant; I can't remember the name, but it might have Ponderosa. My parents occasionally tried to dissuade her. It was the 80s in Arlington, Virginia, and the dining wasteland that had been the 60s and 70s was finally retreating. A little Tex-Mex hole in the wall had popped up, though whether it was open from week to week depended on if it had been raided by the INS. Vietnamese restaurants had sprung up along Clarendon avenue, sushi had made its way to the suburbs... but grandmother wanted her buffet. It was such a bargain!
posted by tavella at 12:16 AM on July 23, 2015


the food item is nominally in the end it's just a way to convey fats and salt into your mouth

I think you're in the wrong thread
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 1:53 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I once did a week long project with an older (mid-60s) coworker and the only places he would eat were buffets. We ate at 2 different Sizzlers, a Hometown Buffet and a couple Chinese Buffets. He was from Oregon and we were working in Fresno, he actually expressed fear when I suggested trying local places.

I don’t hate buffets in general but would never choose them on my own except Sizzler. I was raised vegetarian and Sizzler steak was the first steak I ventured out to eat on on my own so it holds a special spot in my heart. Also, endless friend shrimp-like product.

I always have to tell this tidbit whenever I see people talking about buffets: I will never forget being a teenager and going to Golden Corral just to watch the people fight over the banana pudding. They installed a cowbell and would ring it everytime a fresh tray of banana pudding was put out. People would run to the counter with plates, the bowls were far too small.
posted by M Edward at 2:25 AM on July 23, 2015


>It's kind of sad that if you start them off young enough apparently a Korean kid will learn to love thick, salty food that oozes grease that everyone serves here. Most of the Koreans I know came here as adults and can't stand the stuff.

I don't agree with this generalization. Many, many Korean people become drawn to Western foods as adults, just as many Americans become drawn to exotic foods from other lands. A lot of Korean food, by the way, is very, very salty, and some of the most popular Korean dishes "[ooze] grease."
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:39 AM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


(That comment also bugs me because it seems to fall prey to the old "other cultures are healthy and American/Western culture corrupts them" canard, a reductive and exoticizing view that is "othering" at the least and orientalist at the worst.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:01 AM on July 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


Beefsteak Charlies. All the beer, wine and sangria you could drink and all the salad bar and shrimp.

God bless you for remembering Beefsteak Charlie's. It was my favorite restaurant as a kid. Also the one my family would go to in Sheepshead Bay (I think) had a Virtua Fighter machine set to best 3 out of 5 matches which was amazing.
posted by griphus at 5:02 AM on July 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Thousand Island thing happens to first-gens, too.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:34 AM on July 23, 2015


Any FPP discussing Sizzler requires a mandatory viewing of this All American commercial.
posted by Karaage at 7:59 PM on July 22 [6 favorites +] [!]


At 1:39 there's a black person on a carousel, and later on I swear there was one in the restaurant.
posted by Gungho at 6:00 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's kind of sad that if you start them off young enough apparently a Korean kid will learn to love thick, salty food that oozes grease that everyone serves here. Most of the Koreans I know came here as adults and can't stand the stuff.

Why wouldn't we? Our taste buds aren't appreciably all that different; we're just as biologically wired as Americans (and, let's be honest, humans in general) to like sugar, fats, and salt. The way the flavors are combined might be a bit different, but there are plenty of Korean dishes that are bombs of salt, umami, or fat. It's probably gotten worse, too, given that the country is far, far, far richer than it was a century ago, meaning that it's much more affordable for anyone to go out for samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly) or similar.

If anything, I think it's more familiarity and cultural influence. When one grows up in the US, one has far, far more opportunities to be exposed to "American" cuisine. Real American cuisine, not the Koreanified versions you get when going to "Western" restaurants or Western fast food chains in Korea. Some friends will undoubtedly be white, or black, or latino, and so exposure to things like mac & cheese, collard greens, or queso will come early. And that bit about Lunchables in the first episode of Fresh Off the Boat is familiar to any kid, immigrant or not.
posted by qcubed at 6:15 AM on July 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


We had Sizzler in Long Island NY, giving rise to the seven-year Sizzler Cycle amongst my friends.

After leaving Sizzler: "oh god, why did we go there"

Years 1-3: "went to Sizzler not that long ago, no thanks"
Years 4-5: "Sizzler wasn't really that bad. The salad bar is decent"
Year 6: "You want to go to Sizzler? Maybe next time"
Year 7: "Know what I was craving? Sizzler! Let's go!"
posted by dr_dank at 6:36 AM on July 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


In 1999 I was working for a large multi-national software company and was sent on a 5 week, 6 stop tour of our Asian offices, rolling out a new product. I would meet with the local sales and support folks, demo the new software for big customers and prospect, etc.

About mid-way through my trip, I found myself at our office in Seoul. On my second day there the head of the office invited everyone out to a lunch in my honor, a thanks for the work I was doing.

"What would you like to eat?" I was asked. Now, I had promised myself that I would do my best to eat local, wherever I went and other than breakfast in Japan (good food, but not what I could stomach at 7:00am!) I had been greatly enjoying the local cuisine, whatever it might be.

"I'm happy to go where you all like to go for lunch. Please, pick your favorite!" I replied.

"Oh, then in your honor let's go to our favorite American restaurant! You must be homesick for some good food like you get back home. And you can eat with a fork, instead of chopsticks," Office Manager added with a smile.

Disappointed, but not wanting to be rude, I agreed.

I'm very proud of myself -- I didn't burst out laughing when we turned the corner, and I saw the all-too-familiar green and red logo. The food sucked, though it is the only Sizzler I've ever been where they had Kimchi on the salad bar.

That same night the people I was working with closely took me to their favorite place, and I had the best damn Korean Barbecue I've ever eaten.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:26 AM on July 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Years 1-3: "went to Sizzler not that long ago, no thanks"
Years 4-5: "Sizzler wasn't really that bad. The salad bar is decent"
Year 6: "You want to go to Sizzler? Maybe next time"
Year 7: "Know what I was craving? Sizzler! Let's go!"


Ditto Ponderosa for the aught household, though sadly with a shorter 2-3 year cycle. We end up coming across some tempting coupon after a while and it lures us back to the deep depressing Americana hell that is the Ponderosa Grand Buffet.

Last time there, before our entrees came while we were eating plates from the buffet, the server anxiously came over to tell us we would have to have "smiley fries" (which are really "creepy-expressioned puffs") instead of the usual big baked potatoes, because they were totally and completely out of potatoes, sorry. I realized that from where I was sitting at our booth I could actually see a big chain grocery store across the street, and as un-obnoxiously as I could, suggested they might send someone over to pick up a bag or two, white baking potatoes being super-cheap, to get them through the rest of the dinner rush.

The manager came over to thank me for the good idea, which I assume means it had never occurred to him. The only downside is that, since we did end up receiving baked potatoes without very much of a delay, means they microwaved rather than baked our potatoes, so they had that slightly gluey texture potatoes get when microwaved instead of properly baked. So that, the travesty of a few of the ill-advised items on the buffet, the crumb and chocolate-sauce-strewn devastation of the dessert area, and the memory of the sad pageant of humanity we shared the dining room with, will keep us away for a few more years.
posted by aught at 8:58 AM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love this series, and the discussions it generates here, because I think they both nail a certain peculiar mixture of nostalgia and bemusement - ranging across a spectrum of 'guilty pleasure' to 'my god I can't believe I used to eat that', or perhaps, 'My god, I can't believe I still eat that!'

I would love to step into a Pewter Pot restaurant again. My fuzzy memories of the place are all from visits with my maternal grandparents, who had a pretty well-established routine of going out for coffee and a muffin... if not daily, then at least several times per week. I think the one we went to was in a mall near where they lived, and the heavy, dark, 1960s-70s American Colonial revival decor was always such a weird contrast to the rest of the mall.

In later years the Pewter Pot was replaced by Dunkin Donuts. One of the best cups of coffee I've ever had was at a Dunkin Donuts with my cousin and grandfather when I was about 16 years old. Not so much because of the coffee itself, but because it was the first time we had been invited to partake of the coffee-and-pastry ritual personally, versus tagging along by default as kids.
posted by usonian at 9:11 AM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


jonmc: "We didn't have Sizzler so much in the northeast, just Bonanza, Ponderosa and American Steakhouse all of which I loved as a kid. Then as a 15 year old I worked a busboy in one of them and my fondness waned for some reason."

Ever go to Tad's in Times Square?
posted by Splunge at 9:30 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know why it was on the salad bar - it was on salad bars at other places, too.

There are many places in the US where fruit flavoured jello cubes are referred to as a "salad" and will be served alongside dinner entrees like they're a vegetable side dish.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:07 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Working at Ponderosa is also the reason I can't bring myself to eat kale. It was used for decoration on the salad bar. One of my jobs as the salad bar girl was to take the kale off the salad bar when it got nasty, wash it and put it back out. (All of the jobs at Ponderosa in the early 1980s were segregated by sex, except for some reason busing tables.)
posted by interplanetjanet at 10:35 AM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


splunge: Ever go to Tad's in Times Square?

Ohh boy. My old boss took me to the one by Rockefeller Center. Definitely the restaurant that time forgot, between the Tiffany glass lamps and paneling. I was tempted to ask the man behind the counter who the president was in case we stumbled upon some sort of time rift.
posted by dr_dank at 11:02 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was actually thinking of the omnipresent banana-slices-in-gelatinous-red-(but NOT jello)-goo.
posted by sourwookie at 12:39 PM on July 23, 2015


I was actually thinking of the omnipresent banana-slices-in-gelatinous-red-(but NOT jello)-goo.

I actually associate those with Chinese buffets, rather than "country" buffets like Ponderosa or Sizzler. Adjacent to containers of orange slices and canned peach halves.
posted by aught at 1:56 PM on July 23, 2015


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