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/// OP-ED MEAN & SOBER | by Stad DiPonzi Back on the Chain Gang I


ALWAYS THOUGHT THE 1913 Room restaurant was so named because only those born in that year were permit- ted entry into its delicate, velvety folds. Crowd-wise, I always considered the 1913


Room akin to a Peninsular Club that actually allowed women diners. Progressive in its way, I guess. I have eaten at the 1913 Room … once


(fake ID). It was fine. I am not in the business of handing out ratings like orange stars, blue diamonds or green clovers, but it was nice enough. Still, I never went back. Despite these thoughts, I now find my-


self deeply mourning the pending closure of the 1913 Room, as its mountainous crystal chandeliers go dark and it prepares for a summer-long gutting and conversion to a Ruth’s Chris Steak House. I find myself in the minority here. Most


people seem to be celebrating the arrival of Ruth’s Chris as proof that our city continues to put itself on the map. These people are idiots. As I have said


before in this space, a locally owned restaurant is as precious and as irreplaceable as Simon Cowell or your pinkies. Ruth’s Chris is a very good steak house,


but it is still ultimately a chain, and a publicly traded one at that, so efficiency and economies of scale will be important. The Grand Rapids restaurant will be one of more than 120 that are run out of office park outside of Orlando. Regardless of the final quality of the meal, its products, processes, décor and desert menu are likely to be as pre-set and pre-packaged as anywhere with a drive-thru window.


I have lots of opinions about area joints


like 616, Reserve, Vitale’s, Red’s, Bistro and others – some of them negative. But I would rather see Amway replace the dated and dusty 1913 Room with a new failed experiment than punt by going with a solid, if unremarkable choice. Since it’s not my money, I don’t blame


Amway Hotel Corp. for the decision to go with Ruth’s Chris. I blame us and our inability to support anything different. By cheering the occupation of A+ downtown dining space by a chain – ANY chain – we are saying we are OK with the usual. We are increasingly a market that val-


ues the consistent and predictable over the unique or bold. This is a slippery slope. If we are not careful, Sandmanns will lose out to McRib, or the Choo Choo Grill will fall to the Whopper. n


SDP believes in tipping at least 20 percent even if you suspect the wait staff did something bad to your food. If you actually see them spit on it, you can drop it to 15 percent.


It is not safe to be outside. At all costs, never leave your vehicle. It’s lucky then, that America has established a vast and elaborate system so that you don’t have to leave your car unless you are a crazy risk taker, like joggers.


Murder has drive-bys: the trend that started it all. Listen to music, stay warm and make a quick getaway. Death by Camry. Lazy, but clean (at least for the shooters).


Banks have drive-throughs. Just wind down your window and chat with your bank manager, use the ATM or fire pods through vacuum tubes. This laziness is, in fact, great. But it’s mostly safe. And it’s great.


Coffee shops have drive-throughs. You can get your latte and bagel without risking your hide. Make sure you look left and right before handing over your money, just in case something is lurking. This is also lazy, but great.


Car washes have drive-throughs. No more risking the driveway at home to wash your car on a Sunday morning. Every street in America has a car wash, where a friendly robot will clean almost all your car with only minor abrasions. This is lazy and rather rubbish, although the kids like it.


Mechanics have drive-throughs. Never again will you have to drop off your car at a mechanics all day to get a service and use a bus or walk to work. Just drive in, stay in your car and smile as the grease monkeys around you suck the juices out of your chariot and replace them with cheap, strawberry-flavoured lubricants and chemicals. Lazy, rubbish, but somehow makes you feel like you are looking after your much-loved car.


Shopping almost has drive-throughs. The Yanks have spaced shops just far enough apart that crossing the car park from Target to Costco is just a little too far to risk on foot. Lazy, rubbish and annoying.


Not sure why it is so dangerous outside. I’m staying in my car, though, just in case a clean, lubed Toyota drives past with a group of chaps drinking Starbucks trying to throw paper airplane bank statements at me.


E-MAILS TO BLIGHTY | by David Smith Fur Q Uzi Lover


8 | REVUEWM.COM | APRIL 2011


SCHEDULE | DINING | SIGHTS | SOUNDS SCENE


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