Chick-fil-A opened May 25 in Reno. Why the hype?
On May 25, 2017, Chick-fil-A, the fast food chicken chain, began giving Reno the bird.
Ever since word broke in November 2015 that the company had filed building permit applications for the property at 6365 S. McCarran Blvd., the hype machine has been working day, swing and graveyard, fueled by Chick-fil-A zealots, fan boys and other enthusiasts (and, let's admit it, by RGJ Media's own bated-breath coverage).
My lead question is: Why?
Why all the stir over what is, after all, fast food poultry?
Why does Reno, a city with an increasingly vibrant food culture, still go ga-ga over the arrival of In-N-Out Burger or Five Guys or Einstein Bros. Bagels or, as it did back in the day, over the fat and sugar delivery systems known as Krispy Kreme doughnuts?
Fast food — no matter its appeal to certain senses, no matter how friendly the employees, no matter the agreeable fantasy that customers and company are one big family — no matter all this, fast food means standardization. And standardization means menu by committee somewhere at corporate.
In the age of local food, fast food is the opposite.
If you've seen one . . .
Now, I know what many folks are going to say: I'm a food snob. Not so.
I hit the Burger King drive-through several times a year for Whoppers with cheese. I occasionally caress a thigh of the chicken sandwich on the Jack in the Box value menu.
And anyone who knows me well knows of my inexplicable fondness for Taco Bell bean burritos, extra cheese (a menu item that probably bears as much resemblance to a real burrito as virtue does to vice).
I'm not opposed to fast food — I'm opposed to the unreasoning hoopla over the debut of a Chick-fil-A that, save for expected variations, will be much like every other Chick-fil-A across the country. And that goes for other fast food debuts in the Biggest Little City.
A bed of asphalt
People camped out so they could be among the initial adult customers on May 25. Part of that was to receive free Chick-fil-A for a year — and part was the natural human desire to be first at something.
Writ large and noble, that desire drives people to conquer mountain peaks. Writ small and silly, it causes them to bed down in the parking lot of a Reno Chick-fil-A. The early bird gets the chicken biscuit, or something like that.
In all the states and countries I've lived in or traveled to, there is not one restaurant (or one anything, really) at which I would sleep out in order to gain admission. It wouldn't matter if Thomas Keller were going to be on grill and Escoffier himself on sauté. Just no.
When I need a local poultry fix, I'll head to Roundabout Grill for chicken tenders with steak sauce or M & M's Southern Café for fried chicken or Roxy in the Eldorado for the perfect roast bird every time.
These dishes aren't hyped, but they should be.
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