Independent restaurants, not chains, dominate NJ

This nice little piece in the Asbury Park Press says that we’re fourth in the country (behind VT, NY, DC) in highest percentage of non-chain restaurants.

That’s a good sign for our economy – more of our dollars for diners, Indian, Italian, Korean, and the many other great places to eat in NJ stay with small business owners in the community instead of going to out of state CEOs.

These are the type of jobs, and businesses, we hear talked about too little about in Trenton. Xanadu can get hundreds of millions of dollars from our state lawmakers and Gov. Christie despite widespread public opposition. But small businesses, which keep their money in the community and often support local community causes, too often get short shrift, even as New Jersey’s job numbers continue to lag behind the nation.

But in the meantime we should be proud of the higher levels of independent restaurant entrepreneurs in New Jersey compared to most places. And grateful for all of the great food they provide.

Comments (4)

  1. sayitaintso

    when we taste it.

    I found myself in a Pizza Hut in Belleville once.  The damn pizza was just not coming out of the oven.  The man ahead of me in line finally said:  “what the hell am I doing here?  this is Newark!  I can get real pizza anywhere I want!”  and left the store.  

    So did I, and so did a few others.

  2. ken bank

    Maybe I’ve been living on another planet all these years but from my own experience I’m not as enamored with the overly romanticized vision of small businessmen as some noble individual having to compete with all those evil chain stortes and restaurants. I’m sure I could write a book about all the experiences I’ve had dealing with “independent” enterpreneurs and the “big, bad” chains, but I’ll simply say that from my personal dealings I have more often than not had a better time doing business with chains than I have the “independent” enterpreneur.

    Just one example. It’s no exaggeration to say I’ve eaten out thousands of times over the past decades, and more often than not I’ve gotten better service and sometimes, yes, even better food at chains than I did the local greasy spoon for approximately the same price. Also the chains tend to be cleaner, more sanitary (especially the bathrooms), and more likely to rigorously enforce health and safety standards. Sure, occasionally you hear about the mouse that got cooked at McDonalds, because it happens so rarely out of billions and billions of food items. It doesn’t become a national news story when it happens at a local diner unless you read the health violation notices in the local paper.

    Quite frankly, I’ve personally known lots of “small” businessmen who cheat on their taxes, cheat their customers and employees, often hire and exploit undocumented immigrants, and are able to get away with all kinds of shenanigans precisely because they are small and can get away with it. Many of them employ family members and exploit them as well, especially if they come from another country, and are also more likely to take advantage of nonunion labor, especially if they do business with contractors who are not unionized.

    One more thing to keep in mind. Many chains are locally owned and operated as franchises. Because of the franchise agreement, local owners are required to comply with rules and regulations that hold them to a higher standard than independents would have to comply with. It is easier for independents to hire and exploit undocumented immigrants than it would be the owner of a franchise. If an independent gets caught he pays a fine. If a franchise owner gets caught, he could lose his franchise because of all the bad publicity for the parent company.

    There are always exceptions, and my comments are based on my general impressions and not every single experience. Bottom line for me is “smaller” is not always better than “bigger”.


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