First off, Kay West should just get a blog. She appears to be in dire need of the catharsis wrought by typing out one’s opinions on other people. Her review of Maggiano’s begins with a tired dismissal of people who first bother her by vowing to exercise and then bother her anew by failing to keep that vow at her crowded Y.
[A personal aside: Perhaps if those of us who've tried that before had been left to our own devices, we would keep coming to the Y instead of building our own home gyms. We're sorry that we've "tried [your] patience”, Ms. West. Hope you enjoy continung to judge us from your lofty “perch on the StairMaster.”]
She veers from that judgment of the overweight (fat, but too fat to bother her at the Y) to a judgment of the restaurants who serve large portions. As though my fatness and the fatness of all fat people I know is simply because they’re too darn stupid to eat right. As though all fat people are hogs who will mow at the trough until the food is gone. It’s not, you see, that we fat people have made the twin mistakes of being born into a gene pool and enjoying to eat. It’s not that we make our own choices–a legal right of adults in this country. It’s that we walk into a restaurant and blindly eat whatever is set before us, no matter how large or distasteful.
“Wasn’t this a restaurant review? ” I think to myself. Don’t worry. TWELVE PARAGRAPHS LATER she will start talking about the food, dismissive of its quality and damning about the portion size. My favourite part of the review is where she reveals her raw, naked, seething hatred of large portions. She orders spaghetti to go. AND TAKES IT TO THE POST OFFICE TO WEIGH IT. (3.5 lbs)
Lady, get over yourself. So the spaghetti weighs 3.5 lbs. Big Friggin’ Deal. If I were to get that spaghetti I would eat it. For several meals. Sometimes you’re busy and tired and since you can’t work out at the Y and bother all the regulars it’s just easier to swing by a place like Maggiano’s on Monday night, pick up a big container of ready-made food and have it for supper the next 4 nights. Then you can eat at home and work out at home, shower at home (so Kay and her buddies don’t have to stare at your flab in the locker room) sit on you couch and eat your spaghetti in sweats while watching “The Biggest Loser” and feeling a perverse sort of “There but for the Grace of God go I” .
What Kay West never mentions in her review–she apparently forgot to address it, being too busy enlisting the Federal Government in her cause–is that she is a major proponent of the idea of locally-owned restaurants. Her reviews consistently damn the chains for their generic food, low food quality and lack of culinary originality. She openly lauded the establishment of the new “locally-owned restaurant” cartel, the Nashville Originals. You know, the group founded in part by the guy who owns the restaurant across the street from the new Maggiano’s. How much of her damnation of Maggiano’s is propelled by her apparently vested interest in preferring local eateries over chains.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, until I am blue in the face: what does the presence of a Cheesecake Factory, … attract some portion of the corporate parent’s expansion dollar? Except for possibly some negligible design differences, the Nashville Maggiano’s is no different than the 35 others in that chain.
It is the independent restaurant—owned by the couple who live down the street from you, or the man you went to high school with—that speaks to the heart, the soul, the spirit of who we are and where we make our home. Only here can you expect to be greeted by a friendly, familiar face at the door who knows your favorite table; …. In 2006, let’s resolve to celebrate Independents’ Day all year long.
Well, Kay. Here’s the thing. I love restaurants. I love some chains (yay, Maggiano’s), hate others (ugh, Cheesecake Factory.) I love some local restaurants (Yay, Ellendales & Mad Platter), and really don’t care for others (boo, that one Italian place on West End everyone raves about whose name escapes me). I’m rather egalitarian that way. Serve me some combination of good food, satisfying atmosphere, excellent service and respect–and I’m yours. I don’t care where the cheese comes from, who signs the paychecks or who parties with you on the weekends. What’s more, I’ve lived in this city for almost 15 years. There are several locally-owned restaurants we patronised regularly. Never once (prior to the excellent Ellendale’s) has one of these sainted Local Restaurants greeted us familiarly or known our favourite table. Even when we went to Tin Angel sometimes twice in one week, for weeks on end.
Circumstances consipired to have us at Maggiano’s twice this weekend. Once, Friday night for a romantic date. It was hands down the best service we’ve had in a Nashville restaurant–chain or local–in the past year. The leftovers made three extra meals. Our Sunday school class went again for lunch yesterday. We sat at a big table, laughed and talked and enjoyed the bounty set before us. Every single couple went home with leftovers in a bag. Some of us are fat, some of us are skinny. None of us looked down on the other, judged each other by what we ordered or how much we ate. The food was excellent, the service was peerless.
Just a suggestion, but if you want to start looking for why local restaurants are hurting, you might want to start with that “get your fat butt out of my eyeline” attitude. We know where we’re not welcome. So we make our home gyms and we eat at places who don’t tell us we’ve ordred too much food.