There was once a diner on the highway. It was small and dinky, but charming in that old time sense. It invoked a 50’s style aesthetic, with a shiny metallic roof and dim neon signs announcing to the world that it is, in fact, open. The food was bad, no doubt about it. But the people were nice, and the music wasn’t too intrusive, and anyway no one would stay here for very long. After all, it was on the highway. The owner, Johnny Smith, would always say he was gonna start up a new place, up on the 88. He never did though. Barely had enough to scrap this place together, he’d always reasoned.
There once was a Chinese restaurant, in a city far away from the highway. It was never successful, but it made enough to stay afloat. With a red awning covered with yellow Chinese characters, and English ones underneath, it did little to separate itself from anyone else in Chinatown. The food wasn’t particularly special here either, but no one could really tell. After all, did Americans really understand Chinese food? It was named Wang’s, but the owner was named Luo Jinping. He’d always say that a Chinese restaurant needed to be pronounceable by Americans to be successful. Some days, he would look across the street from his home above the restaurant and gaze out at the masses of people crowding the sidewalk, and he’d pray that at least one of them would find him.
There was once a pizza place, deep in suburbia. It was called “Empire Pizza,” and its gimmick was that it was vaguely modeled after the Empire State Building. Inside were all sorts of New York inspired props and scenery. The kids loved it. Day after day they poured in, ordering pizza, ice cream, pasta, meatballs, and Empire’s signature “Deluxe 5th Avenue Sundae Supreme.” The food itself was, of course, nothing to write home about. Parents only came here because how else would they get their kids to shut up about it? The owner, Jim Evans, liked to greet customers on weekends. Every time he saw a parent and their children walk in, he felt a little pang of regret in his heart.
There once was a wildly successful fast food chain, which sold overcooked burgers and obscenely salty French fries. They were called Sally’s Fries, and their mascot was a little blond girl holding a spatula. Sally was the founder’s daughter. Allegedly, she had made those very first fries all on her own, and her daddy made a business out of selling them. Of course, Sally never did make those fries, and she always resented her father for making her into a marketing tool. Though she objected countless times, her face eventually became a very lucrative one. Her father always regretted estranging her, but hey, at least he made some money off of it.
I was once very hungry, so I searched for restaurants on Google Maps. On the highway was a small diner, in the city was a Chinese place, in the suburbs was a pizzeria, and in two places near me was a fast food outlet.
But they all were below four stars, so I passed and opened Seamless instead.