With all the new restaurants opening in Gig Harbor, what’s next? An Applebee’s?
Ummm…yep. That’s right. The new building going up in the Safeway complex between Opus Bank and the Safeway gas station is an Applebee’s.
I haven’t heard when their Grand Opening will take place, but building construction is forging ahead at a rapid pace.
I had very mixed feelings when I heard this news. Of course I’m happy that businesses are opening and that Point Fosdick Square is starting to fill up. Any restaurant, even a big corporate one, has the right to open where ever they darn well please. Plus Gig Harbor doesn’t have a casual dining chain restaurant like this.
But I fear for the small, locally owned restaurants that may be struggling already from a slow economy and soaring costs. There is no way they can compete with the big budget advertising, flashy new interiors, and name recognition of one of these corporate establishments. Or the cookie cutter menu and robotically trained, flair-embellished employees that these places produce.
Oops, I told myself I would try to be fair and open minded.
Applebee’s, and chains like it, are consistent. You can go to one anywhere and know what to expect. I guess that is a part of the appeal and why there are so many of them. It offers a wide variety of menu items, a plus for a large family with very divergent tastes.
On the other side, those things are exactly why I don’t like going to a chain restaurant. We almost exclusively frequent locally owned restaurants. I like knowing the owners and seeing a place change and grow. Sometimes painfully. There are ups and downs. I have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for anyone brave enough (some might say crazy enough) to open and run a small restaurant. It’s an extraordinary thing to do it, and do it well. Not many can.
My hope is that Applebee’s will pull in people who would ordinarily be going to Tacoma to dine and not take away from existing restaurants. If residents here can save the toll, why not stay in Gig Harbor? I will probably go to the new Applebee’s a time or two. The kids will like it, at least at first. But I hope that after the newness has worn off, diners will remember the local businesses and keep supporting our locally owned restaurants.