In recent weeks I’ve been invited to several blogger events for big chain restaurants. And I’ve turned them down. Sure, I’d get to eat for free. Sure, I’m allowed to write what I want. But I just can’t. I’d never eat at one of these restaurants normally, so even incentivising it would make no difference to me. I try to avoid eating in chain restaurants wherever possible. I had to eat in that huge pub chain a couple of weeks ago. I felt like I needed an acid shower afterwards.
You’re might be thinking “but you’ve reviewed chain restaurants on your blog before?”. Yes, I have. I review restaurant chains where there’s less than five restaurants. I’m talking about big chains here, the ones that forsake quality ingredients for the sake of competitive prices. They also overcrowd prominent shop space in cities and towns, preventing skilled, local talent from being able to start up. OK, yes they’re providing jobs, but they’re not providing quality jobs. Anyone can put a timer on the microwave to heat up my meal. I want someone to put their love and attention into my meal, not wait for timer to ding.
The other thing I try my hardest to do is support my local community by buying local produce and eating in local restaurants. I like to think I do my bit and show my support. If I review one of the chains I feel like I’d be betraying all this. Even if I write about them in a negative light, they’re still benefitting from a review, from the SEO my blog would give them and I’d be giving up my time for them.
Let’s talk about quality too. We ate in the Portguese chicken chain for the first time in a long time last year. And we haven’t been back. I find it incredible that I am unable to select a free range chicken option. I would be happy to spend the extra money too. I like to think my food might’ve led a happy life before it was sacrificed for me to eat, even if it means spending more money. And I’d rather eat out less often, knowing the quality was better.
Chris Pople of Cheese & Biscuits wrote a review of The Aberdeen Angus Steak House a while back and after wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes I realised there was a very valid point here. Do we really want tourists to think that chain restaurant food is the best that Britain has to offer?
I’m finding it hard to articulate why exactly I don’t write to review big chains, but I hope that I’ve related enough for you to understand and I’d love to know your thoughts on it. But if you’re a big chain looking for a review, I’m afraid the answer is no.