A restaurant chain is a set of related restaurants with the same name in many different locations that are either under shared corporate ownership (e.g., McDonald’s in the U.S.) or franchising agreements. Typically, the restaurants within a chain are built to a standard format (through architectural prototype development) and offer a standard menu.
If you read the above definition closely, you’ll notice that Wikipedia uses the word “set” rather than defining the specific number of restaurants necessary to constitute the “chain” classification.
Although there are 5 Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille’s currently in existence, I’d never consider Harry’s to be a chain. Conversely, there are a grand total of 4 Manny’s “Original” Chop Houses, and I very much consider this set of restaurants to be a chain. You’ll soon follow my logic.
The website for Manny’s Chophouse is a visual summation of the restaurant’s decor. Neon lights and random objects strewn up to hang in the background. I often refer to this common mode of interior (and sometimes exterior) design as “junkyard theme.” Below is a picture of the outside of the Manny’s in Lakeland, not an actual junkyard.
You are certainly familiar with “junkyard theme” because you’ve seen it at Applebee’s, Friday’s, and countless other chains. Most notably, you’ve seen it at Cracker Barrel (pictured below).
Manny’s is a big time Cracker Barrel wanna-be, the only difference being that Manny’s would rather focus on dinner foods than breakfast staples. Instead of serving every meal with biscuits and white gravy, Manny’s will automatically serve dinner rolls and salad.
Similar to Cracker Barrel’s famous all-you-can-eat biscuits and cornbread, Manny’s employs a “satisfaction through satiation” strategy with all-you-can-eat rolls and salad. Both the dinner rolls and salad are made fresh and are somewhat decent, which is pretty much the theme for any entree you order here as well. Furthermore, Manny’s goes for overkill with their portion sizes. I decided to give the rib-eye a shot.
If you look closely, there isn’t a spec of seasoning on the vegetables. A chain would never want to risk losing a potentially steady customer over something as easily preventable as slightly too much salt, or worse yet, some snooty chef’s personal interpretation of a traditional dish.
The steak came out exactly as I ordered it and it was a somewhat decent piece of meat. Places like this become methodical at churning out food that is unlikely to be sent back to the kitchen, which would inevitably slow production. Efficient production is critical in this model because Manny’s will always have a packed parking lot.
As much as I hate to admit it, a chronically full parking lot outside of a restaurant is a pretty glaring sign of success. Manny’s has targeted the masses, and the masses come in droves. Your food will come out fast, your food will always be consistent, and your food will always be at a competitive price.
We came during the cleverly named “2-4-1” drink special listed on the bottom of the receipt, which means we got 4 drinks and 2 full entrees for under $45 bucks.
If you have a large family to feed, dislike surprises, or just want to know that your steak will automatically come out right each time, then frequent your local Manny’s “Original” Chophouse. You won’t be alone.