There’s a rumor going around this morning that the restaurant chain Bennigan’s is out of business. What a sad day for Corporate Restaurant Chain America! Bennigan’s was kind of the first big sit-down restaurant chain that I remember – it used to be the place to go when I was in college. We did a lot of 21st birthdays there. With the cray-zee decor (Bicycles on the wall! Goofy signs! Musical instruments!) and innovative menu (The first place I remember having Mozzarella Sticks and the Monte Cristo sandwich!) Bennigan’s paved the way for all the mediocre chains behind them: Friday’s, Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday, etc. Plus, I think they made up the Singing the Birthday Song bullshit to anyone that pretends it’s their birthday. Another corporate innovation!
My favorite Bennigan’s memory was when I worked at the Olive Garden back in 1990. We weren’t allowed to drink at the Olive Garden bar even if we were off work and out of uniform, and Bennigan’s had the same rule for them. Our restaurants were right next to each other, so we worked out a little secret criss/cross system where they would give us free drinks at their bar, and we would give them free drinks in ours. After awhile, we all kind of knew one another and at one point we figured out that if we were working and took an order, turned it in to the kitchen, jumped in our car (yes, our car) raced over to Bennigans in time to have a shot at the bar and race back just in time for the order to be up. One time I did this a few too many times in one night and one of my tables walked out on me. Ahhhhh…. memories!
Farewell, Bennigan’s! Viva the Monte Cristo Sandwich!