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America's Next Great Restaurant


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#1

eelpout

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Posted Mar 6, 2011 @ 12:59 PM

Premier starts tonight. From the NBC site:

From Emmy Award-winning producers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves ("Top Chef" and "Project Runway") comes "America's Next Great Restaurant." In this delectable new alternative series, people from every walk of life will vie for the opportunity of a lifetime to see their original restaurant concept spring to life - starting with the opening of a restaurant chain in three locations - Hollywood, Minneapolis and New York City.

Funding the restaurant concepts are four accredited investors: Bobby Flay, distinguished restaurateur ("Iron Chef America: The Series," "Throwdown! with Bobby Flay"); Curtis Stone, internationally renowned chef (NBC's "The Biggest Loser," "Take Home Chef"); Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle; and Lorena Garcia, executive chef and restaurateur.

An "alternative" series? That's a new one on me. ;)

Edited by eelpout, Mar 6, 2011 @ 1:00 PM.

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#2

TudorQueen

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Posted Mar 6, 2011 @ 3:41 PM

I will definitely give this a chance because

A) I really do love Bobby Flay ::ducks::

B) The concept is similar to - and probably borrowed from - the BBC show Last Restaurant Standing, which I loved.
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#3

Rex Raider

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Posted Mar 6, 2011 @ 8:59 PM

I enjoyed it. It's my type of show, so I will keep watching. I'm not sure how they will stretch it over 10 episodes. It really comes down to if people want to eat that type of foods.
I just have one question: What's with all the sunburned/red faces?
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#4

Static Emu

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Posted Mar 6, 2011 @ 9:00 PM

I take it the judges don't really hang out with the hoi polloi if they think chicken and waffles is an original concept.
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#5

pitchnduel

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Posted Mar 6, 2011 @ 9:08 PM

For me, I'm really a fan of the people and the concept for Hick's and Limbo.

I didn't get the point about being able to make a good grilled cheese at home. Flay, I can make a really good burger at home, too. But, you'd better hope I'd still go out for one. I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned how strongly the grilled cheese concept might skew to the family market. Kids would love it.

I'll be very interested to see how the fixed-calorie concept would be realized. It could be great or a disaster...
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#6

Elle34DD

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Posted Mar 6, 2011 @ 9:14 PM

I take it the judges don't really hang out with the hoi polloi if they think chicken and waffles is an original concept.

Especially considering Bobby Flay had a throw down with chicken & waffles in Harlem on his show.

I only caught half the show but thought it was interesting. Loved that the grilled cheese guy beat out burger guy. But also think he couldve hooked up with Soupz lady.

And what was with that lady with the blow up igloo that had nothing to do with the restaurant???
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#7

cstad

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Posted Mar 6, 2011 @ 9:18 PM

Definately the American re-make of "Last Restaurant Standing" from Britain, right down to the whole "make-a-dish-and-pitch" first episode that was standard with LRS. There were a few more "wacky" ringers thrown in (you're going to inflate an igloo that has nothing to do with your restaurant? Really!)

However, I'm looking forward to watching this every week. There seemed to be a good mix of "love-to-hate" types and "good" guys - I particularly liked the chicken and waffles guy. And as much as I hate to admit it, I would totally go to a place called "Saucy Balls."

As for the grilled cheese guy, there's two restaurants in Cleveland based on that concept (both called "Melt") and they are fantastic. Hopefully, he's not impinging on any copyright-type things.
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#8

All is peachy

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Posted Mar 6, 2011 @ 9:51 PM

I really liked it and I'm sort of surprised. I liked all of the judges/investors. I have never heard of Chipotle, I guess they aren't many of those in the South. I am interested to see how it unfolds. I hope they get chefs soon, otherwise some of the contestants might be at a disadvantage. I liked the Limbo and fixed-calorie ideas best. I totally cracked up at Soupz girl.
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#9

CrumbyButtons

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Posted Mar 6, 2011 @ 9:57 PM

"The restaurant is called Soups, and I'm inspired by... soups" She cracked me up, too!

I liked the pot pie idea, I don't remember why they didn't go for it. There's already a restaurant chain called Potbelly's, I think. But I'd love to get a good pot pie for lunch!

The only thing I saw wrong with a grilled cheese place is that if you wanted to grab one and take it back to the office, or home - I don't know if it would travel well. I get Chipotle, which is pretty far from my office, but when I get back, I just give it a shot in the microwave and it's good to go. But I think a grilled cheese needs to be eaten right away or it would get soggy.
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#10

rhys7

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Posted Mar 6, 2011 @ 10:01 PM

Some of those cheftestants were so sweaty while making their pitches to the 4 judges. Yeoza, get a hankerchief. I, too, thought the cheese sandwiches might be great for families. Got really tired hearing of wings wings and more wings (and wangs, jeesch).

I don't know the woman judge, but I do like that the Chipotle (sp?) guy is there. Great story.
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#11

bulldawgtownie

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 12:12 AM

I liked the pot pie idea, I don't remember why they didn't go for it

They didn't see people wanting to constantly eat a pot pie, and I agree with them. It's a nice idea for an occasional type of thing but I don't think it was a good concept to base a restaurant on when you consider the fact that you need a steady stream of customers if you want to be successful.

Got really tired hearing of wings wings and more wings (and wangs, jeesch).

I got the feeling Joe and that hamburger and buffalo wings guy were just on to plug their already existing restaurants.

I'm rooting for the chicken and waffles guy but there are already successful food chains based on that combo and I wonder what makes his stand out. Also I predict the former WNBA player will win. Her idea was the healthy, made to order, wraps. Not a totally original concept but I think it's different enough to work.

Edited by bulldawgtownie, Mar 7, 2011 @ 12:19 AM.

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#12

Bigwheels1971

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 12:40 AM

What shocked me were the people who went in front of the judges in t-shirts and jeans to do their pitches. All I could think was, I know this is reality tv but this is essentially a job interview and you wore that?

Edited by Bigwheels1971, Mar 7, 2011 @ 12:40 AM.

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#13

Al Funcoot

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 2:26 AM

Yeah, I didn't get why people were reacting to the chicken and waffles guy like it was a new idea. It's never been done as quick service.

Speaking of Last Restaurant Standing, I was trying to think of why the lady with the big inflatable sounded familiar, turned out one of the major competitors on LRS had a similar concept, food for adults and a version for the children (without the "creative" aspect).

I was a bit disappointed at some of the ethnic concepts that seemed to have been dismissed for not having wide appeal. I remember back when Taco Bell seemed exotic (oh yeah, I'm old) so I would have liked to see the judges argue why this wasn't going to be the concept that makes Persian food ubiquitous. I mean, I get why the guy with the Indian concept had to agree to serve meat, but they aren't opening restaurants in tiny cities that haven't heard of ethnic food. The question should be if they've figured out how to package it into a convenient package.

I love the concept of Compleat. I think it won't be too difficult to implement, but I suspect the appeal will be limited to urban areas where there are a lot of office workers.

I think the pot pie concept could work if instead of serving a proper pot pie, she essentially served a Hot Pocket and called it a pot pie... a new kind of easily portable food. Quick Service Restaurants could use a food you can eat in one hand other than wraps, burritos and sandwiches.

There was something about Marisa that inspired extreme antipathy to me, She reminded me of the stereotypical marketer, who only knows messaging when a good restaurant marketer should have a good understanding of operations and customer service. Hopefully later episodes will prove my impression wrong.
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#14

MsLawDawg

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 2:42 AM

I enjoyed this show. I did die laughing when Bobby did the obligatory product placement mention of the LG appliances and one of the contestants mentioned Calphalon cookware...then I saw that Magical Elves produced the show and all was clear. I wonder which vehicle company will be a sponsor.

Color me shocked that the Wangz guy (Joe?) who was the huge jerk wasn't picked for the sheer dramatic hijinx sure to ensue...

I thought some of the concepts were very clever, so I'm interested to see how it plays out.

I'm waiting for Bobby Flay to get his own reality show, as the man hasn't yet met a camera he's not in love with, although I do enjoy his willingness to be defeated in almost every episode of Throwdown.
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#15

Boobala

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 9:21 AM

I really liked it and I'm sort of surprised. I liked all of the judges/investors. I have never heard of Chipotle, I guess they aren't many of those in the South.


OH your poor thing. When my daughter went to college, I decided I needed a hobby and tried to take up knitting, but eventually turned to Chipotle to pass the time. The result is major poundage, but the stuff is amazingly delicious. We have several (Ohio) and you can't NOT wait in line, ever - but the line moves quickly. Oh so good.

I like the fixed-calorie concept, and the taco guy .. but 75 different combinations? Pare that down and you've got a winner. The chicken and waffles guy is adorable. But as someone already pointed out, they're all so sweaty! Schweaty balls, anyone?
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#16

WileyCoyote

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 10:09 AM

I need to suck on some Saucy Balls, please.

Yeah, I didn't get why people were reacting to the chicken and waffles guy like it was a new idea.

I didn't get the impression that anyone other than Curtis (non-American) thought it was new. Just un(der)exploited, that's all.

I love the concept of Compleat. I think it won't be too difficult to implement, but I suspect the appeal will be limited to urban areas where there are a lot of office workers.

Actually, the idea came off as VERY generic to me (and I'm sure its been done thousands of times as one-offs or small chains already, and the main reason there's no existing national chain for it is because there's nothing all that riveting about the idea (or any one implementation of it).

I really liked it and I'm sort of surprised. I liked all of the judges/investors.

My problem with the judges is that OTHER than the Chipotles guy (who, in part, is only worth so much because McDonald's invested BIG in the franchise and got behind and pushed), there's really very little experience with franchise food here. Bobby's Burger Bar, for example, is a vanity operation, and survives mainly on HIS celebrity and not the food or the idea. Curtis Stone is just a media figure. And the lady from Miami seems to have a very new attempt at a chain and its only regionally implemented. These folks therefore are doing "reality show judging", I bet, and not real, practical judging.
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#17

GenieinTX

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 10:31 AM

I'll be very interested to see how the fixed-calorie concept would be realized. It could be great or a disaster...


I live in Austin, TX and we already have two chains of stores that do this. The food isn't hot when you get there, though. You walk in and there are big refridgerators that have pre-portioned low cal food ready to take and eat. Similar to the concept of Lean Cuisines, but the food is fresh (opposed to frozen) and generally pretty tasty. They have a microwave there and tables, but I think most people grab a few to take to work for lunches for the week. I frequent both to do that. The restaurant version of this might work in an urban setting where there are a lot of office buildings around.

I didn't get the frowns at the grilled cheese either. If I had a choice of McDonalds or a grilled cheese with fresh veggies and chicken? I'm going for the grilled cheese.
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#18

OoogleEyes

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 11:09 AM

The Saucy Balls guy reminded me of a resturant owner that was on Kitchen Nightmares. He looked like his brother, but I can't remember his name...Peter, maybe? I thought he was kind of creepy with those giant teeth.
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#19

MsLawDawg

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 11:15 AM

Yes, I too was baffled by all the hand-wringing over the Grilled Cheese concept. I thought it was pretty good--definitely better than the burger guy, so I'm glad he beat him out for the coveted 10th spot. I can make a good grilled cheese at home...but I work 30 minutes from home, so I would definitely go there at lunch. Plus my child loves grilled cheese and at times, when you are out shopping or whatever, it's just easier to pick something up than drive home, make sure you have your bread, butter and cheese and get your skillet ready. Plus with the array of additions and different cheeses, I think it could be a good concept. The most I may ever add at home would be deli ham or use a different cheese besides Kraft (dodges slings and arrows), unless I'm trying a variation on a recipe or something.
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#20

Jempilot

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 11:27 AM

The WNBA lady was Fran from Home Rules on HGTV (a crappy makeover show that didn't last long). She was billed as a life coach on that show, and now she's a personal trainer with a restaurant idea.
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#21

Rickster

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 12:32 PM

I liked the pot pie idea, I don't remember why they didn't go for it. There's already a restaurant chain called Potbelly's, I think. But I'd love to get a good pot pie for lunch!



Yes there is. A pretty big Chicago area sandwich shop chain. So we already have branding issues. Need to build in the license fees to the business model, or the costs for the trademark infringement lawsuit.

I can remember reading about a grilled cheese restaurant in New Jersey a couple of years ago. They offered various types of breads and cheese and some condiment spreads. It failed.

The lady with the wok to order concept. That's not unique either. There's a restaurant down the road from me here in Chicago that does that, and it's part of a small chain too, but not technically quick service. When I worked in New York, I had a couple of these places within a several block radius I could go to for lunch, but they were all independents .
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#22

Watt DeFark

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 12:59 PM

the wok to order concept


That one sounded a lot like a Mongolian BBQ setup...

I'm not sure I understand this deal. Every chain I can think of grew organically...one successful restaurant, then a second, then more.
Are they attempting to spring a chain full grown from the start like Athena from Zeus' forehead?
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#23

Karmalicious

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 1:07 PM

I like the concept of this show and will definitely continue watching it as my Sunday nights are devoid of programming. I thought Compleat sounded interesting, as well as simple Indian food (Tinder Box?). There are so many chain sandwich shops, that I think something different, like an exotic food chain could be successful.
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#24

Al Funcoot

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 1:29 PM

I love the concept of Compleat. I think it won't be too difficult to implement, but I suspect the appeal will be limited to urban areas where there are a lot of office workers.

Actually, the idea came off as VERY generic to me (and I'm sure its been done thousands of times as one-offs or small chains already, and the main reason there's no existing national chain for it is because there's nothing all that riveting about the idea (or any one implementation of it).


When I worked in the health-conscious Bay Area, I can think of a couple concepts where you could get calorie information about your food but it wasn't the marketing focus of the brand and the food was pre-packaged, it was like getting lunch at the deli counter of a nice grocery store. I presumed Compleat would operate a little differently but if it ends up being a place where customers grab a packaged lunch out of a fridge and take it to a cashier then it won't be much.

Still, both of the places I can think of marketed themselves as generically "fresh" and "healthy". If the branding is focused on a complete and healthy meal (which, IMO, would mean educating customers about nutrition guidelines... which, yes, can be made interesting enough to be used as counter cards, etc) it can be something I haven't seen before.

My problem with the judges is that OTHER than the Chipotles guy (who, in part, is only worth so much because McDonald's invested BIG in the franchise and got behind and pushed), there's really very little experience with franchise food here


Thank you. During the hype over the Chipolte's guy I kept thinking 'Isn't Chipotle basically owned by McDonald's?' He accomplished a lot but the big expansion was due to attracting another company's attention.

The lady with the wok to order concept. That's not unique either.


Yeah, I was a bit annoyed by the judges acting like that was an impractical idea. I've been to a couple of quick service Mongolian BBQ places that made it work, even with customers customizing their orders. With stir fry, they'd even be able have multiple wok stations where the food would be cooked.
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#25

soapygirl

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 1:30 PM

This show is kind of a weird mix of Top Chef and The Apprentice, obviously being a great chef doesn't mean you're a great business person and vice versa although watching most of the would be restauranters the kitchen was kind of painful though. Clearly

I'm rooting for the Chicken and Waffles guy since that is a great combination of flavors and the show was definitely playing up this guy's sob story.

I'm not a vegetarian but I have no hang ups about eating vegetarian food when it's good, especially southern Indian food is so good you don't even miss the meat.

Another issue with the wok is that each meal would be cooked in an individual wok and then you'd have to clean the woks out after each use so it's very labor intensive. I'm not sure you could re-use woks without issues of cross contamination.

It's kind of a pity the Vietnamese guys didn't just go for a banh mi joint (banh mi are vietnamese sandwiches) since banh mi is a concept is very adjustable to different flavor combinations and I think that while it's not as well known as say a burger or wings, it is well known enough in big city markets and could catch on in smaller ones. (speaking of which: NYC, LA and then.... Minneapolis? Huh? kind of a drop down there. No offense to Minneapolis residents or anything but it's such a drop in population size, wouldn't Houston or Chicago make more sense?)

Edited by soapygirl, Mar 7, 2011 @ 1:52 PM.

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#26

MrsMVM

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 1:44 PM

The WNBA lady was Fran from Home Rules on HGTV (a crappy makeover show that didn't last long). She was billed as a life coach on that show, and now she's a personal trainer with a restaurant idea.


I was so annoyed by her presence on the show. This woman likely has had enough tv gigs and sports money and what not to just invest in a restaurant herself. I don't think she needs this show, nor do I think it's fair to have an already-tv-person be on it. I just don't. She's also a little bit annoying.

In Boston, we have Cheeseboy, which is grilled cheese to go. It's awesome and delicious, with less options than the guy on the show would have, but, it takes a heck of a long time for one sandwich. I do like the grab and go... not possible with grilled cheese.
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#27

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 1:56 PM

I love the grilled cheese sandwich idea and that guy seems pretty cool. I used to order a grilled cheese from a local sit down restaurant as take out and drive the 10 minutes or so back to work and it was still delicious. I am not a big fried food person or meat in general so I would love to be able to go somewhere for a quick grilled cheese. I'm sure the menu could be expanded to include all sorts of panini sandwiches since it looked like he was using that machine to make the grilled cheese. Also, he would benefit by having locations in the bar areas in college towns. I can tell you hands down that after the bars close I would much rather have a grilled cheese than taco bell crap.
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#28

LeDucDiableBleu

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 2:02 PM

The Saucy Balls guy reminded me of a resturant owner that was on Kitchen Nightmares. He looked like his brother, but I can't remember his name...Peter, maybe? I thought he was kind of creepy with those giant teeth.


Yes! I actually thought it was him until I watched closely. I guess he just has a strong resemblance to him.

Thank you for mentioning the HGTV lady. I couldn't remember where I'd seen her before. I agree that she doesn't need to be on this show. I'm rooting for Chicken and Waffles.

It must have been really hot in that presentation room because so many people were sweating. Yuck.

I think NBC tends to telegraph the winners of their competition shows. I remember on Sing Off the band that won (can't remember their name right now) were featured very prominently throughout the promos so much so that I thought for sure they were the winners, and sure enough they were. This time it seems to be Saucy Balls. I just get that feeling from seeing him so much in the promos and the commentary during this episode. That's pure speculation on my part, but I put it in spoiler bars just in case.

Pot Belly's is in Texas, too. It's favorite place for everyone at my work, since there's one right next door. I would love to see a fast salad place. Maybe Compleat could fit that niche. So many times driving home from work I just want to pick something up for dinner at a drive through to eat at home. But I hate crappy, unhealthy fast food. There's a salad shop called Salata that's close but you have to walk in and order to-go. I would love a drive-through healthy place.
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#29

Rickster

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 2:21 PM

Pot Belly's is in Texas, too


Maybe I take these shows too seriously, but if I were going to take a concept to TV, I might type the name into Google just to see if anyone else was using it. But it seems that the cuteness of the name is all that matters on this show.

I liked the Indian idea myself.
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#30

soapygirl

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Posted Mar 7, 2011 @ 2:22 PM

There's a difference between fast food and fast causal. I don't think fast casual places have drive thrus. Fast Casual is more of a concept where you order your food at the counter but then sit down to eat and it's more of a restaurant than a fast food joint.

I think Compleat is more about offering portioned healthy food and not just salads

Thing is that with a salad restaurant you can still eat pretty unhealthfully depending on what you want mixed into your salad. There's a salad place in my hometown called chopt and they offer a variety of salad otpions that are healthy but they also offer things like fried onions, fried chicken, bacon, cheeses so it's possible you could make a meal that has 80 grams of fat and 1200 calories all while patting yourself on the back for eating a salad.

Also there's potbellies in my town too. And in fact if you type potbelly into Google you come up with the potbelly sandwich works as your first 7-8 results result. So clearly that woman was clueless about copyright infringement. I suspect a few of the 21 people brought in as canon fodder.

Edited by soapygirl, Mar 7, 2011 @ 2:27 PM.

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