In the world of online foodie discourse — which is a bigger thing than you’re probably giving it credit for, see: random restaurants trending nearly every day — giant chain restaurants don’t have a lot of advocates. No one is really that eager to talk about the finer aspects of Chili’s menu, rave about how good the cheddar biscuits from Red Lobster are, or highlight which IHOP pancakes slap — unless of course, you come out swinging. Then you’re going to have a lot of sudden defenders blowing up your notifications.
That’s undoubtedly what happened to Twitter user Alex C (@anothercohen) after he openly criticized Chili’s, Applebees, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster over the weekend in a tweet that has since earned over 4k replies, 8k retweets, and 14K likes and is still growing (Red Lobster is currently trending at number 3 in the US right now).
I don’t understand how the following restaurants are still in business:
– Olive Garden
– Red Lobster
— Alex C (@anothercohen) September 10, 2022
Alex C openly wondered how the four national chains were still in business which essentially, in his own words, “triggered all of suburban America” as thousands of online foodies came to the defense of these American staples. Despite all the hate, Alex seems to be standing by his original assessment, and we can respect the bravery — even though his take on Olive Garden’s salad is straight-up wrong.
Doubling down on the opinion that the food is bad at all of these restaurants (exception being the breadsticks and salad at Olive Garden)
— Alex C (@anothercohen) September 10, 2022
Olive Garden’s salad is probably the worst salad you could ever find at a restaurant, and you can blow up my Twitter notifications if you think otherwise. As derided as these big chains generally are, for many a suburban kid growing up in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, a lot of these restaurants exemplified the height of luxury dining (not hard when you compare it to McDonald’s) and introduced us to a larger world of flavors that opened up our relatively sheltered palates, so we understand the fondness a lot of people have for them.
Check out some of the best takes in this raging debate below.
This mentality is so alien to me as a person who grew up rural & working class. When I was a kid, restaurants like Olive Garden and Red Lobster were the expensive places we’d drive by on the way to Walmart or the diner. When my grandma took me to Bertucci’s, I felt like royalty. https://t.co/VFiFBMavVC
— Kim Kelly (@GrimKim) September 12, 2022
I just watched an episode where Anthony Bourdain went to a Sizzler with a friend. He was very respectful despite having had the best food from all over the globe. If he can be respectful about what his friend enjoys, so can everyone else
— DRay (@cakeamonga) September 12, 2022
Also? They offer a predictable and consistent experience and have a lot of drink specials. The “surprise” from OP is bait.
— Arielle Castillo (@ariellec) September 12, 2022
Tell me you’ve never been to rural America without telling me you’ve never been to rural America.
Most small cities rely on these chains… & they’re affordable for middle class families.
When I was growing up, going to Rapid City SD & going to Red Lobster was a huge treat.
— Aurora_Activist (@AuroraActivist) September 12, 2022
tell me you haven’t had “endless shrimp” at Red Lobster without telling me you haven’t had “endless shrimp” at Red Lobster pic.twitter.com/iyaj8tzXNr
— Trung Phan (@TrungTPhan) September 10, 2022
Love your tweets but this is a trash take I’m sorry. Chili’s is in a league of its own. https://t.co/gBQRcDbk94
— Gonzalo Nuñez (@gonzalo__nunez) September 10, 2022
Because people like the food at those places, and not everyone wants to try or has easy access to “different” foods? Not sure how that is hurting you or anyone else, or why you even care.
May you be haunted by the ghost of Anthony Bourdain.https://t.co/1P6EBtoChn
— Jase313 (@Jase313) September 12, 2022
You must not know any poor or lower middle class people. These places offer a lot of bang for your buck, predictably.
— Bruno Ferrari Faviero (@Bfaviero) September 10, 2022
They offer a sit-down restaurant at almost fast food-level prices. They allow families to go out to eat inexpensively. I don’t see what the mystery is here. Have you ever visited a single suburb or small town?
— divergiment (@divergiment) September 10, 2022
These restaurants are a good way for working class people to feel like they can take their families out to a more upscale dining experience that’s affordable
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) September 12, 2022
this is engagement bait and it clearly worked for you, so congrats. but to most of the working class, these are the only options and to some these are even nice restaurants
I’m from Oklahoma and I live in SF now but I don’t look down on where I’m from
— Ashelina (@theashelina) September 11, 2022
applebees – liquor
olive garden – unlimited salads & bread sticks
red lobster – cheddar bay
— pfireBaby I Could Never Steal You From Another (@firefire100) September 11, 2022
I worked at Applebees, literally everything is microwaved.
The smell driving by a Res Lobster makes me gag, I don’t know how anyone could eat frozen then thawed seafood.
Olive Garden is McDonald’s for Italian food.
Go anywhere else for better food.
— Briana Rose Lee (@BrianaRoseLee) September 12, 2022
The strangest replies are people claiming these places are cheap/affordable.
A random checker table cloth Italian place is probably cheaper than olive garden. And vastly better.
Do some people literally never even try non-chains?
— plex (@ruthlessreviews) September 11, 2022
chilis is kinda good, some suburban areas that’s the best mex/tex-mex in a wide radius
— Senior PowerPoint Engineer (@ryxcommar) September 10, 2022
that’s cause you’re rich. I live in sf and occasionally take my kid to Olive Garden bc it’s 1. cheap, 2. extremely fun for kids, and 3. unpretentious and super family-friendly. Hard trifecta to find in “tasteful” urban American establishments.
— Katia Sobolski (@katiasobolski) September 10, 2022
How picky of a pallete do you have to have to think the food at these places is *bad*?
Did your mommy always give you your favorite mac n cheese for every meal as a kid?
How’s your cooking man?
— AngelLeatherist (@AngelLeatherist) September 10, 2022
Excuse me, but have you HAD cheddar bay biscuits???
— candiceteets (@candiceteets) September 12, 2022
Some people may not know this but that’s why I’m here, Red Lobster has one of the best cheeseburgers out there right now- and vanilla bean cheesecake too. Thank me later.
— Dorina G. (@dorinaperry) September 12, 2022