Have it YOUR way, weirdo…

Years ago there was a Burger King Ad campaign who’s tag line was “Have it your way”.  My recollection is that they were trying to distinguish themselves from McDonalds.

Meanwhile, back in 2017, I am noticing an interesting trend.  Over the last year or so I have been introduced to a series of restaurant chains that all have something in common. They allow the consumer to choose the ingredients of their entree.

Note that I did not say “modify” the ingredients.  This is not the Burger King scenario where a Burger comes a certain way and you can change it.  This is you building your entree from the ground up.

For example, my wife and I went to a place called Mod Pizza the other day.  You walk through the line and choose your crust, your sauce, your cheese, and your toppings.

There are some unconventional toppings, folks.  I had chicken, corn, broccoli and pineapple on mine….you know, the way it’s supposed to be made.

My wife called me a weirdo.

It reminded me of the Subway Sandwiches operation where you walk through a line and build your sandwich from scratch. Other recent discoveries of this trend were restaurants called Genghis Grill (Mongolian Stir Fry) and Salata (“The Next Generation Salad Bar”).  In both cases you are building your entree from scratch.

…and that last one, Salata, is what turned on my fascination about this trend.  My wife was all fired up about this salad bar place and I just didn’t get it.  Admittedly, I’m not really a salad guy. Correction, I’m not AT ALL a salad guy.  But now I know why!

The people who have been selling me salads have been selling me THEIR idea of a salad instead of MY idea of a salad.  We went to Salata and I put corn, spinach, strawberries, and peas in my salad….you know, the way it’s supposed to be made!

My wife, again, called me a weirdo.

It was the best salad I’ve ever had. Completely turned me around on salads.

I think this is a really cool trend.  Have you experienced this?  What other restaurants have you seen with this kind of model?  Other industries?  Build-a-Bear comes to mind…


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6 Replies to “Have it YOUR way, weirdo…”

  1. I made some screwy choices at a Mongolian grill and hated it. Never went back. They were my choices though(“Hey register guy!! That flavor combination was horrible!”). On the other hand, ther is a Brazillian rice bowl place here in town called Five on Black in which I have purposely tried like eight combinations of things and each one is awesome. If I had to vote one way or the other though, i’d go with the place that confidently serves one thing really well. I worked at a fine dining place in which the chef would get kind of mad when people changed his entrees. If they complained afterwards, he’d do whatever they wanted, of course, …but back in the kitchen he was pretty much “hey, if you want to cook at home, go do that! It’s awesome! But don’t have me execute your experiments and then try again after you don’t like it.” He took a lot of time creating this specific plate with flavors that all work together in one way or another. Changed the menu every season. Took it crazy serious! And I love that!

  2. It took me a couple tries to get the Mongolian thing where I wanted it for sure.

    It does seem like this trend cuts across the grain of the traditional “chef makes his masterpiece” model. If I’m a chef I’m probably not happy about this trend. On the other hand, I also think that we may be talking about two different demand streams. For instance, it’s not uncommon for me when I go to a restaurant for the first time to just order an entree as it comes. I’m always curious about how a restaurant’s dish tastes it made to their specifications. I’m thinking they probably did some product testing and who knows what else with some folks with cool accents who understand food in a way that I don’t….so I’m curious. So there are certainly places I would go to eat what THEY create…vs. what I create. Different deal, right? Maybe.

    Have you seen this trend in other industries?

    1. My mother used to survey her six children and say wryly, and self deprecatingly….”It doesn’t take much to amuse some people’s children.”

      Thank you, Linda!

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