Blaw-Knox towers and Nashville

Scott Fybush
Thu Mar 17 18:31:21 EDT 2011

Larry Weil wrote:
> At 3:21 PM -0400 3/17/11, Paul Hopfgarten wrote:
>> Why is it that most National Chains fail to make in-roads in to good 
>> old parochial New England? Now of course Waffle Houses are pretty lame 
>> places to eat, I will admit, and only used on my trips to Texas last 
>> summer as a quick meal while on the road...
> There are lots of regional chains, and I believe Waffle House is one of 
> them.  And some of the places that are common here are not found 
> elsewhere.  You can't find Pot Belly Subs much outside of Chicago, and 
> you wont find Papa Gino's or DeAngelos outside of New England or upstate 
> NY.

I suspect real estate has a lot to do with it. Waffle House, as anyone
who's traveled the South knows, lives and dies on locations next to
freeway off-ramps. There's not much real estate in New England that fits
that description.

Sonic's model doesn't work north of the Mason-Dixon line, where nobody
wants to be outside in their car waiting for food in the middle of
December. They've tried to make inroads in the Midwest, but it's an iffy
proposition even in places like Cleveland and Fort Wayne; indeed, the
Fort Wayne locations recently closed, much to my summer travel dismay.

And yes, other chains are simply regional. Culver's and Steak & Shake
are Midwest-centered (though I saw a few Steak & Shakes in Florida);
Krystal, like Waffle House, is a Southern thing; In-n-Out has long
resisted expanding beyond a one day's drive from its Los Angeles
distribution center (though that's changing now, with new stores in
Colorado and Utah and I think New Mexico); Whataburger is a Texas
institution; the list goes on.

It's nice to have at least some variety out there in what's becoming an
increasingly homogeneous roadside landscape...


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