This started out as a summary of event from New Years Eve, 2011. However, it has turned mostly into a rant about why I hate Pizza Ranch so I will stick with the title and continue after returning from whatever it is that I do at night. Please, if you do not enjoy reading criticism of Pizza Ranch then just look at the pretty pictures and move along. I have very few good things to say after this sentence. Grammar, spelling and style errors will be fixed later so if you notice something incorrect... keep it to yourself.
New Years Eve: Part 1.
Here's how this played out. After Christmas in Cedar Falls/Waterloo and saying goodbye to family and my trusty old car, Spiders and Mice (named for it's previous inhabitants) I hitched a ride from my mom back to Iowa City to spend some time on the couch of at friend's house until Kevin could pick me up and bring me to Des Moines. That car ride was excellent and it was great to spend time with an old friend and roommate. We spent much of the time criticizing Iowa. Sorry, Iowa, I love you and everything but you're suburban areas are sick and sad. Let me rant about this for a moment.
We had the extreme displeasure of going through the crappy suburbs of Des Moines, Bondurant and Altoona. That area has previously been a disliked area for the RAGBRAI team I travel with and I will not go into that now. This town is absolutely nothing more than a corporately owned slave . If there's a chain restaurant or big-box store in existence then there's one in that area. Good luck to anyone who doesn't want any of that crappy prepacked garbage. I swear they have restaurants that I thought were only an urban myth/parody. We needed to drop of some Gatorade for a sick girlfriend so we faced the danger of being stuck there for a while but we managed to escape the land of people you don't want to be around and grabbed a tasty meal from Taco Johns. I regret nothing about that meal. Along the way we saw the following sight and felt obligated to park and mock it, quite literally, inside and out. Let me direct your attention to a few details about this restaurant. Sorry, this probably doesn't interest many other people but when it comes to restaurants I have a very sour section of my heart devoted to odd features and services these chum buckets provide.
Why is there a "Pick-up here" window? Normally a restaurant will have these for people to drive up to and receive their daily slop bag without the inconvenience of having to get the hell out of their car and walk 50 feet. This window negates that convenience entirely by putting a sidewalk in between the parking lot and the building. It's completely worthless. Someone's really going to stand outside in the cold and wait for the 16 year-old kid to pack up their junk while they freeze their ass off? I friggin' doubt it. But hey, I don't eat "food" from that place at all anyway. For any of you who are lucky enough to never have been in there let me tell you what it's like.
"Buffet" is probably the easiest way to describe that place. With that description you could also understand why it's pretty unnecessary a window to stand at while they fill up a styrofoam box full of dog chow. Someday when you see pictures of me traveling in Mexico you will understand why I dislike American-style corporate restaurant/shopping culture. Unfortunately, I am not done.
While pointing and laughing at this sight some young employees of the restaurant sensed that I was mocking the place and begged me to come inside. I said "No, I'm not eating there. I'm not THAT hungry. You can't make me." They were laughing and seemed pretty insistent on showing me something. I stopped to listen to what they said and I understood about three words, "touch", "screen", "soda". This I had to see. As I entered Pizza Ranch I was greeted by the young'ens. I explained that I didn't want to eat there and I wouldn't even consider looking at the food. They were unconcerned by my ill-temper and were hurrying towards this monstrosity.
This both shocked and amused me. Touch screens on a pop machine!?!? "For why? I just don't... I don't even.. WTF?". The advertised advantage for this machine is that it tastes just like pop from a bottle. Really? Like any of those slobs eating at Pizza Ranch are even capable of making that judgement? Do they even deserve it? If they're so picky and deserving of a slightly better taste then what are they doing at Pizza Ranch? Don't get me wrong here, I love eating pizza, mashed potatoes, chicken wings and a BLT for lunch and dinner but shouldn't they focus on making those foods taste good? I know it's not that hard. I've prepared this very meal for Glut-Fest 2007. The menu is lazy and uninspired. Just look at how many descriptions on the menu contain the word "Ranch". WTF ARE CHICKEN FRIES!?!?!? Also, did you notice that gluten-free sign in that first picture? This is what lead me to a fit of hysteria in the beginning. As if they could make food with any less flavor they go and throw that option in there. Good job, fellas, you have reduced classic American cuisine into a product devoid of any pleasant flavor or texture.
....continued in Part 2!