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ISSUE 116 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 9/27/2002

Applebee's enters Northfield

By Ross Latchaw
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 27, 2002

Loud, in your face advertising and high prices. We live in a consumer world.

Visiting big cities throughout the United States, I’ve realized one common element about them: they’re all beginning to look alike. Not just in terrain and ethnicity, but in the same large corporations that seem to pop up, again and again.

This is especially true in the restaurant industry. In the small, unique town of Northfield, everyone grows to love the independently owned shops and restaurants, but word is out that the big, bad Applebee’s chain is moving in.

Many people are probably excited to eat the over-priced salads and steaks, but do they really know the impact this huge eatery is going to have on the surrounding businesses? Once this place opens up it’s almost guaranteed to be jammed full of people at every point in the day, and take away those regular customers at the restaurants next to it.

Sure this will be good for bringing people to town, but what about all those old favorite spots to eat? Consumer engagement with small businesses will probably decline drastically, and in the future some restaurants will be full of doubt.

We see this happen all the time with those large, annoying chains and super stores. When a Wal-Mart, for example, barges into town, small and locally own drugstores are usually run out of business.

If you talk to people who own their own businesses, generally you’ll find individuals who are willing to work hard to have the most welcoming environment and the best food around. Many times this is not the case with huge chains. When face to face contact is diminished and cooks have several orders to work on at once, all they want to do is get the job done and move on, and the drive to do the best possible job is decreased.

Also, locally owned businesses always have a unique, one of a kind look and atmosphere about them. I doubt Applebee’s can manage that. Yes, they do decorate their walls with old, interesting memorabilia from many different aspects of American culture, but all their restaurants have that, and after awhile it’s not so interesting anymore.

With a large percentage of the Northfield community made up of college students, I would hope that they’re at least smart enough to decide not to fall into the trap of those stupid gimmicks and phrases of Applebee’s, and their soon-to-be big and colorful logo, smothering all other downtown business signs.

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