From our Swindon Correspondent:
From The Independent
I have eaten there more times than I can count, more times than I can remember; and yet I have never eaten a bad meal there. That’s always been its secret, the silver bullet that set it apart. Yes, it might be boring, generic, predictable. But flip that notion on its head, and what have you got? Dependable, safe, good quality every single time. The chain took the concept of a fast-food franchise – the idea that, no matter where you are in the world, a Big Mac will always taste the same – and applied it to a sit-down pizza restaurant. Genius.
OK, it’s not adventurous, but it’s that rarest and most precious of things: an unerringly pleasant, risk-free dining experience. It’s comforting to know the menu off by heart. It’s strangely enjoyable to read the entire thing each time, as if there’s any real possibility you might order something different from the same two dishes you have eaten there on every single visit for several decades. Of course, you don’t – but hey, it’s fun to pretend.
This is, roughly speaking, about brands and their importance. You know that a Pixar movie or a Toyota car are going to be pretty good because the last 3 were.
If you’re in a strange town, looking for somewhere to get the kids fed, you know that Pizza Express is going to be fine. Maybe not the most exciting place, but not bad. And you know what you’re going to get.
And the decline of brand restaurants is, I suggest, down to TripAdvisor. Instead of eating somewhere because of brand, you rely on the sum total of opinions of other customers. It actually works better than a brand. You don’t get to eat in an OK place, you get to eat in a good place.