Applebee’s in Hastings: Mission Accomplished?
About three years ago, a survey of Hastings area consumers made it abundantly clear that the marketplace wanted more dining opportunities.
Since the survey, Kitty’s Roadhouse, Jimmy John’s and Rivals opened their doors. And we have not one, not two, not three, but FOUR really good Mexican restaurants. Since that time, we’ve seen entrepreneurial efforts such as the Courtyard, Sgetti’s, the Brick House, The Back Rib and Come & Get It Barbecue close up shop. Even Valentino’s went away for a while…
In response to the survey, we saw new breakfast offerings from Bullseye’s Sports Bar & Grille and Murphy’s Wagon Wheel—both of which have either been scaled back or have disappeared altogether due to lack of consumer traffic. The Blue Moon and Back Alley Bakery offer lunch as well as tasty fare for a morning coffee break, but they are not as busy as they would like, we’re sure.
And, of course, there are the other long-time homegrown Hastings staples: Bernardo’s, the Barrel Bar, Papa Ray’s, the Garden Café, Taylor’s, Dally’s Deli, Hastings Keno, the OK Café, Imperial Garden, the Goldenrod and—just a short drive away in Juniata—the Plainsman.
Add all the regional/national pizza, burger and other fast food chains (plus whoever TMB has inadvertently overlooked)—and that’s a pretty impressive list for a town of 25,000 in the middle of corn and cattle country.
But spite of all these options…in spite of all this local flavor, unique menu items and hometown investment…it turns out that what Hastings diners really wanted…what they really wished upon a star for every night as they lay their weary heads and hungry tummies down to sleep…was an Applebee’s. Like the ones you see advertised on the teevee. All you had to do was ask anyone on the street about what restaurant they’d like to see in town—and that was the answer: Applebee’s. Really.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Will having Applebee’s on the edge of town provide one more compelling reason to NOT drive another 30 miles north? Has Hastings finally “made it” as a community now that we have “something good in the neighborhood”? Or will the lure of the Olive Garden and Perkins just 30 miles away be simply too much to overcome? Will “2 for $20″ and “Sizzling Entrées” eventually become passé and familiar…and we find ourselves longing for a new restaurant relationship with the passion and excitement we once felt for Applebee’s?
TMB sincerely hopes that Applebee’s enjoys great and long-lived success in Hastings. But hopefully not at the expense (or demise) of the local restaurateurs who have invested their own money, vision, heart and sweat equity in building something truly special in their hometown. If Hastings diners are serious about wanting dining options, then they must also patronize those who offer those options. Or those options will go away. And we’ll be left with nothing but the cookie-cutter national franchise restaurants that will make Hastings just another predictable, bland, middle-sized American town instead of a community with an interesting, unique and homemade flavor that truly is something special.
Congratulations, Hastings. You finally got your Applebee’s. Bon appetît!
But remember the inimitable GW on the deck of the aircraft carrier proudly declaring “Mission Accomplished.” We all know how that turned out.
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