A Final Word On The Chain Challenge

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Back in August, I threw out a challenge to you, dear reader. If you helped me raised $1,500 for the Greater Syracuse Walk To End Alzheimer’s, I would eat at and review a middling chain restaurant.

The idea for this came from friend, Roman and countryman Dr. Brian Moritz, Ph.D., who thought it would be funny to make me squirm over a meal at one of the wretched chain restaurants that dot America’s marketplace. And we’re not talking about the premium chains like The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s or Gordon Biersch. Nay nay. We’re talking about enjoying the tepid, assembly-line, just-a-step-above-hospital-cafeteria food that you find at Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse or Red Lobster.Why do I mock these so? Because you can always find a better option for Italian, steaks and seafood than one of these prefab joints. Maybe not in Topeka, Kan., but definitely in Upstate America. When someone tells you that Olive Garden is the best Italian they have ever eaten, it’s because they have never consumed good Italian. These places are easy and, for the most part, affordable. They have big signs guiding diners in. Have you ever said, “Hey, let’s go to Olive Garden?” and heard others respond with cheers or applause? No. Usually, you’re driving down the road and say, “We could go to T.G.I. Fridays,” and hear grunts of indifference and/or agreement. Their success is predicated on people willing to forfeit quality in the name of convenience.

What was I saying? Oh, so, back to the fundraising. I made my goal and thensome. I’m actually the fourth-highest individual fundraiser for the Syracuse event, which took place last Saturday. I incentivized the challenge by allowing people to participate in some of the functions of the ensuing dinner. While Dr. Moritz (and his wife, and probably my wife) will choose the restaurant, nine people will consult with him on what I have to eat. They earned this right by giving $100 and they include: Jeremy, Holly and Bacon Hartigan; Candace Johnson; the LaBella Family; Marietta Mancini; the Olley Family; Paul and Linda Paventi; Timothy Paventi; Matt Traub; and The Wolf Family.

We’re working on the logistics of making that dinner happen, as well as the location. Stay tuned.

The Greater Syracuse Walk To End Alzheimer’s attracted a record 1,215 participants and raised $141,500 (and counting). You can still make a donation to the 2014 Walk To End Alzheimer’s by clicking here.

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