Steak ‘n Shake: nostalgia comes around full circle.

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The average Midwesterner will probably recognize the icon visible through this smudgy windshield. But he or she might not be so familiar with the aesthetic.As the white-and-black sign indicates, it’s a Steak ‘n Shake—a leading candidate for the most Midwestern restaurant out there…right up there along with Bob Evans. The chain, which survived numerous ups …Read more…

Setting bounds for the bail bonds.

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Imagine if you can that you’re in Frederick—Maryland’s second largest city (a distant second, after Baltimore). You’ve just passed through the resurgent downtown, where a variety of restaurants and specialty shops line Patrick Street, the primary east-west corridor. Now, as you make your way past the bustle, you encounter a few businesses that suggest a …Read more…

Lifestyle centers: with Saucon Valley, neither lively nor stylish.

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Now that the holiday season is long behind us, we can only hope to rebound from the latest wave of contractions among our perpetually ailing retail sector. You know what I’m talking about. After dismal holiday performances, chains like Sears, Kmart, and Macy’s announced a slew of nationwide closures.  Meanwhile, smaller, specialty retailers The Limited and …Read more…

When a business hits the big time, it goes small.

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Hot on the heels of my article on a mac ‘n cheese food truck that made it to the major leagues—that is, as a standalone restaurant–I have stumbled across a sign for an eatery that seems to be adopting a similar approach: Yes, macaroni and cheese is incredibly en vogue at the moment, so it should …Read more…

As ambition grows, the menus shrink.

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The destiny of generally unregulated markets is one of intensifying competition. In an ideal world, these markets spawn a trajectory that impels producers or service providers to innovate so they can achieve that competitive edge. As a result, the consumer reaps the benefit of products and services that continuously improve in quality and efficiency. One …Read more…

A new spin in an old city.

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I snapped a bunch of photos of downtown Newark during my last visit earlier this spring, and while the experience will probably churn out several more substantive posts, I want to start with a small one that may soon exceed its shelf life. Back in April, a branch of the fast-casual restaurant chain Qdoba was …Read more…

For moribund malls, there’s redemption in restaurants.

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Amidst the prosperous expanses of suburban Philadelphia, we encounter a mall.Let’s get real here. This the eighth largest metro area in the country. Of course there’s a mall—quite a few, actually, and this blog has covered more than its fair share. This one, heretofore unexplored and located within Montgomery Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, is appropriately …Read more…