Hastings Dining Dilemma
NOTE: This is a reposting of an earlier commentary on The H-Word. The recent announcement of Applebee’s coming to Hastings seemed to make this previous post…and the comments it generated…relevant at this time.
There is no decent place to eat in Hastings – so the saga continues. Expand this notion that all of the dining woes of Hastings would be solved with…..(trumpet fanfare please!!!)
APPLEBEE’S !!!!!!! We need to talk.
I have always lauded Hastings for the LACK of chain restaurants. We have the fast food explosion, but when it comes to dining, the locally owned restaurant reigns in Hastings – that is not such a bad thing. I cannot understand when people travel, why would you go to a chain restaurant when you can do this anytime? Part of the dining experience is enjoying the “local flavor” of foods, traditions, and unique treats only found in that area. Foodies do not think twice about driving to Cozad, Dannebrog, York, etc. because there lies a restaurant offering something unlike anything you will find in a chain restaurant.
If Hastings offered a viable market, the chain restaurants would be well established by now. Major chain restaurants have market analysis teams constantly monitoring regions, communities, and neighborhoods for the demographics ripe for the addition of one on their outlets. I feel the greatest demise to the dining culture in Hastings is the “burger night” phenomenon. Name the day of the week and you can find cheap eats – burger, fries, and a drink for $2.50. We have become euthanized in thinking that if you pay more than $2.50 for a hamburger, why this is an outrage! A hand-formed, freshly ground beef patty on a fresh baked bun with lettuce, tomato, and onion does not equal a frozen 3-ounce beef patty on a day old bun with a pickle and minced onion. Face it, when it comes to eating locally WE ARE CHEAP and WE DO NOT SUPPORT our local restaurants. I have experienced this in my own business, customers would comment on the prices they deemed too expensive with “well this is Hastings.” The addition of a chain restaurant would result in sticker shock, we are willing to pay the price on the occasional outing, but on a regular basis to keep the operation open, I think not.
However, our local restaurants need to step up to the plate as well, in my humble opinion. I hope the 70’s are not going to back on the decorating scheme, so updates to the surrounding are in order. Part of the dining experience is the visual surroundings and we are lacking in that arena. When I go out for a nice dinner I want to feel that my dinner experience is being shared with those in my dinner party and not eating in a dormitory dining hall. Ambiance is lacking. And MENU – some creativity and change is essential; I’ll come back if I know something new will be offered. The draw of the chain restaurant is the decor and an ever-changing menu. Granted, millions are spent in advertising for the chains, but notice how frequently new items are introduced as a means to draw the customer back to the restaurant. Enough with the hot roast beef sandwich special, I want something NEW.
Improved dining scene in Hastings? Very much a possibility – restaurants, how about something new and patrons – show your support! What would YOU like to see new on the local dining scene?
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