Every time we drive down Route 202 in Delaware with the kids in the car and pass this place my 13 year old says "Oh that looks like a really good restaurant" or something similar. Now this is a kid who convulses in disgust at any time we pass a Mac Donald's and who throws stuff at the TV when the Burger King dude appears on the screen. But such is the power of image and the fickle nature of children that my oldest had come to the conclusion that a fast food restaurant named after a line in a classic SNL skit was somehow better than another, when in reality they all uniformly banal at best.
Oh, one might use better meat than the other. Another might have better french fries or shakes, but none of the fast food restaurants that I have been in have ever brought me close to the level of of satisfaction I can achieve with a decent sandwich from a local deli.
Well, you know where this is going, don't you?
Sooooo...yesterday we were on 202 at about 1:30 PM, the kids were hungry, and I thought Oh what the hell; how bad could it be? My question was answered as soon as I walked in the door and saw the decor. The walls were covered with posters of Betty Boop , Coca Cola signs, pictures of pink Cadillacs and a big mess of crap and music that was supposed to give the place a '50's -early '60's vibe.
And yeah , the food was pretty boring -all Sysco type crap jiggered and tweaked to seem like something better than what it was: Crappy industrial strength cheese and chicken that tasted like it'd been stolen from a lab that was trying to develop chicken meat cloned from chicken lip cells; salad dressing made from corn syrup and generic soy sauce accented with little tan colored dots reputed to be sesame seeds. A highlight of the meal was the soda served in Ball-type canning jars. (Wha-hoo!)
Of course the kids loved it- which took a bit of the sting out of the con. And really after 50 years of living in this culture I wasn't all that disappointed myself. But the thing that got me, I mean really got me, had nothing to do with food or the service (the latter was terrific) and everything to do with the nature of the concept of the place.
I could not and cannot understand how any adult could accept the idea of a product that is adorned with 1950's and early 60's pop cult memorabilia and named after a line in skit in a TV show from the 1970's that was set in a contemporary Greek diner. I mean, WTF? I can see how kids might be bamboozled into thinking Funny name, old posters, burgers, shakes, Daddy born in '50's this is cute and authentic. But I wonder if an adult would be taken in.
I suppose that if someone had lived through the '50's and '60's and had emerged into middle age as an idiot, he might forgive himself for believing that the audio and visual ambiance of Cheeburger Cheeburger was anything other than an historically illiterate designer's attempt to recreate a something that never existed.
Yet I suppose it is possible that an adult without major neurological damage might find a place like this evocative of the lost soda shops and diners of his halcyon days. After all, we do live in a culture where many reputedly sapient beings think that the United States declared War on Nazi Germany (it was the other way around) and that angels follow us around like shadows.