It’s a nice thought that unfortunately has nothing to do with reality and is mostly a marketing scheme cooked up by local PR hacks who have screwed themselves silly carrying on adulterous affairs with media chicks with exotic accents but would otherwise only rate a solid 7. Maybe the ends justify the means but now that I’ve had the chance to go to a few local establishments, I wouldn’t give a local establishment any special consideration simply because they’re local.
In fact, as with most things strictly Kansas City, mediocrity is often tolerated simply because of a local connection. Certainly, this is the case with so many Kansas City restaurants.
For some strange reason I was awake during the day earlier this week and I decided to hit Chef Burger. I’ve heard so many d-bags rave about this place and describe it as a second coming because of its veggie burgers and the talent in the kitchen. Upon entering the place, I must admit I was impressed with the decor. The place had a retro post-modern look that made me long for the late 60’s when banging a random skank without a condom was still a viable option. But, just like nearly all causal hookups, I was immediately disappointed.
I was handed a menu that looked as if it had been used by a CSI unit to clean up after a murdered tranny found on the roadside. And my surly cashier/cook/busboy not only looked pissed but also as if he hadn’t changed his sanitary gloves since last week. Maybe this vibe is why Chef Burger has had trouble staying open in the P&L District. Or maybe local employees that don’t have to go through corporate training and screening just aren’t up to snuff.
Like most local places the cost was outrageous. $10 bucks for a turkey burger, waffle fries and a small drink. By contrast, working the dollar menu right at The Golden Arches I could have fed a family of six Dominicans for roughly the same price. Probably less. Even worse, the order came on a steel cafeteria tray that looked dirty.
Don’t get me wrong.
The turkey burger was good but ultimately not worth it. A smart consumer that could get past the silly hipster marketing talk and Crossroads-style snobbery would have found more value and nicer environment at Applebee’s, or with a brown bag lunch at the park. That’s not to say that other local places aren’t worth it. But giving a place a pass simply because they have some connection to the metro is a small town idea that needs to abandoned if Kansas City is ever going to be world class.
And is it just me or has anybody else noticed that most of the local hotspots almost never hire any minorities? Mind you, I’m biased, but it reminds me that corporate fair is often so much better than locals because it must compete on a national level and comply with national standards . . . Like diversity. And seriously, in a taste test most people would take KFC over some place like Stroud’s any day.
All of this reminds me of a somewhat recent Internet commercial that didn’t extol any of the virtues of local places but simply name dropped a bunch of places as if these businesses were supposed to mean something beyond a bunch of locals who mistakenly think they deserve a medal for trying to make a profit.
High prices, poor service and average fare serve as the hallmark of most activities on which Kansas Citians spend their money with only rare exception. A local place can offer an experience just as horrible as any chain, arguing otherwise only encourages yet another aspect of mediocrity that marks this town.