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ajhuff
05-31-2012, 10:29 PM
When I lived in Michigan one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in Kalamazoo had a completely different menu than the one in White Pigeon or the ones I ate at in Chicago or in Georgia. But every Mexican restaurant I have eaten in Georgia has exactly the same menu. Same items, same specials, same numbers. Doesn't matter where. Even the first lunch special is always the same: it's always the Speedy Gonzalez.

And yesterday we were out of town in an attempt to get "good" Chinese food and dammit if it wasn't the same menu as back home (all 3) or Rome GA. Same numbers, same little red chilis indicating which dishes were spicy. Even the same lunch special each served with the same choice of soups with your choice of egg roll or two crab rangoons.

I realize ALL Mexican or Chinese restaurants are the same. I can get different food and menus from here if I go to Chicago, probably Atlanta, but why are SO MANY OF THESE RESTAURANTS EXACTLY THE SAME!!!

Is there a secret syndicate of Mexican or Chinese restaurants? A faceless cartel that recruits families to move here and sets them up with a small restaurant with a prerequisite menu?

Am I the only one who has noticed and pondered this? I realize that I am at risk if I do learn the truth of being placed on a secret cartel's hit list, but I WANT TO KNOW!

-AJ

knyfeknerd
05-31-2012, 10:36 PM
When you disappear after asking all these questions, can I have those Suisins you just bought?

Eamon Burke
05-31-2012, 10:39 PM
A lot of times its the suppliers creating restricted options.

I can go into a pizzaria and know in minutes if its just another craphole that buys everything from Lisanti.

Btw, Speedy Gonzales? What's that? Other than a ticket to get your ass kicked in South Texas.

ajhuff
05-31-2012, 10:42 PM
LOL! Speedy Gonzalez is always the same: one taco, one burrito and something else, chalupa maybe?

-AJ

The Edge
05-31-2012, 11:13 PM
Sounds a little sketchy to me. At least with the Chinese restaurants, you should ask if they have a secret menu. I've run into a few places that don't advertise everything they make because it doesn't sound appealing to most westerners.

SpikeC
05-31-2012, 11:22 PM
Yes, Hung Far Low (I'm not kidding!) had pressed mandarin duck that was not on the menu, butt boy-howdy was it good!

Namaxy
05-31-2012, 11:34 PM
Lol. Not the exact same thing, but among mid- high end restaurants in Boston, you can very much see who is supplied by the same vendors...same dinner rolls, same micro greens, same shellfish specials, same summer tomatoes etc. That's not really anything bad, just a function of people using the available supply.

GlassEye
05-31-2012, 11:46 PM
I have been lucky in finding a few decent Mexican restaurants lately, when I had given up long ago. One was a truck I drove past in a sketchy neighborhood late one night, they had no menu, didn't speak English and may have ripped us off, but those were some good tacos and tortas. Also found a couple of restaurants that will serve brain and tongue and anything else if you ask for it, a friend who speaks decent Spanish is helpful. If I could find great Chinese food, I would be even more happy.
Anyplace that just has the standard Mexican restaurant or Chinese restaurant menu is usually not going to be good, in my experience.

sachem allison
06-01-2012, 12:04 AM
well, here in New York, most of the Chinese restuarants have the same menu more or less. They even have the same photos on the menu board and the same sauces. One day I asked a friend who owns a couple of these places, what gives? He said that most of these places are owned by immigrants from inland China straight off the boat. They get a bunch of family and friends together and pooled their finances. There are government run companies or schools that teach them how to run a chinese restaurant in America. You pick the package you want( Szechuan, Mandarin,Hunan style) and they will, teach you everything you need to start a small Chinese restaurant from accounting, ordering,approved vendors,equipment, menus, signage, recipes and they will even teach you enough English to get the job done. In exchange they get a huge chunk of change at the beginning and a percentage of sales, they even require you to train other people to open their own places. They smuggle you into the country, give you a place to live until you make enough to get your own place, they sometimes become your businesses landlord and they will spot check to make sure they are getting theirs and you ain't. The same things happen here in the city with Chinese nail and hair salons and dry cleaner/laundry mats. There really is a secret Restaurant cartel it is called the Chinese government and sometimes, the Chinese Consolidated benevolent Association and the Tong. They exist, I know. In China town you can walk by all the vendors and markets and notice that the prices are almost always within a few cents of each other. There is a reason for that.

ajhuff
06-01-2012, 12:09 AM
well, here in New York, most of the Chinese restuarants have the same menu more or less. They even have the same photos on the menu board and the same sauces. One day I asked a friend who owns a couple of these places, what gives? He said that most of these places are owned by immigrants from inland China straight off the boat. They get a bunch of family and friends together and pooled their finances. There are government run companies or schools that teach them how to run a chinese restaurant in America. You pick the package you want( Szechuan, Mandarin,Hunan style) and they will, teach you everything you need to start a small Chinese restaurant from accounting, ordering,approved vendors,equipment, menus, signage, recipes and they will even teach you enough English to get the job done. In exchange they get a huge chunk of change at the beginning and a percentage of sales, they even require you to train other people to open their own places. They smuggle you into the country, give you a place to live until you make enough to get your own place, they sometimes become your businesses landlord and they will spot check to make sure they are getting theirs and you ain't. The same things happen here in the city with Chinese nail and hair salons and dry cleaner/laundry mats. There really is a secret Restaurant cartel it is called the Chinese government and sometimes, the Chinese Consolidated benevolent Association and the Tong. They exist, I know. In China town you can walk by all the vendors and markets and notice that the prices are almost always within a few cents of each other. There is a reason for that.

Holy Sh..... I was half kidding but... Wow. I should take pictures of the menus. I can drive to three different towns and eat at three different restaurants owned by three different people and the only difference in the menu is the name on the front. I'm not kidding. You guys were making me feel it was just a Georgia thing.

-AJ

GlassEye
06-01-2012, 12:16 AM
Very interesting, Son. The Chinese restaurant cartel is government, I have no trouble at all believing it.

echerub
06-01-2012, 12:36 AM
Infiltration by planted restaurateurs? That's a little farfetched. I can see this as a prepackaged thing by shady folks, sort of, but it would not make sense as an official government thing.

sachem allison
06-01-2012, 12:52 AM
It isn't officially sanctioned by the Government, but they turn a blind eye so long as they get theirs, actually a lot of it falls under human smuggling practices, I can pretty much guaranty that there are a lot of government officials getting kick backs on the $50- 60,000 dollars a person has to pay to just to get smuggled into the US. I have lived for years with a Chinese family here in the city and they and all of their friends and family went through exactly the same thing. They pay the smuggler, the smuggler pays the government official, they receive their training and get smuggled into the states or are victims more often then not of indentured servitude. There are five or six Chinese work centers here in the city. They send out new immigrants to work as cooks and waiters by zip code, pay them pennies on the dollar to work 7 days a week for 15+ hour shifts and expect them to pay off their debt.It actually happens to Chinese all over the world even in Canada. I know from growing up in Asian communities( and being half asian) most of my life that this happens a lot and is not some farfetched idea, it isn't about infiltration of spies or terrorists, it is about big money. They own these people and abuse them. Not all Asian restaurants, but a lot of them are run this way. You are talking hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars world wide, that is an incentive to get your hands in the pie. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I know these people personally, dealt with them all my life and have been on the receiving end of a shake down more then once. I have witnessed the paying of protection money, the collection of passage debts and the violence associated with missed payments or trying to get out, when they aren't done with you yet. It is very real and damn scary.

Eamon Burke
06-01-2012, 12:55 AM
Living in a border state, having worked with a lot of asian immigrants, and knowing a thing or two about the chinese government...that doesn't sound far fetched to me at all.

ThEoRy
06-01-2012, 01:43 AM
There's a place in Fords NJ called "Fresh Tortilla" which delivers both Mexican AND Chinese food! Mind. Asplode! :shocked3:

sachem allison
06-01-2012, 02:12 AM
Yep, chino latino restaurants. I worked in Phoenix at a place called Spice restaurant and lounge and we served Cuban and Thai food. Most popular items ropa vieja with Thai spices and Thai paella.

Tristan
06-01-2012, 03:31 AM
China is a hugely diverse country. Eating styles differ over geographic distances, and immigrants in various countries who have long established communities have created varying localised favs too.

I'm guessing in a decent chinese place I can order without the benefit of a menu and they would be able to sort out what I want. Bourdain had an episode where he ordered his usual (egg rolls, sweet and sour pork etc), and the chap he was with ordered his usual... and it was worlds apart. Same restaurant in america, just different perceptions and expectations.

echerub
06-01-2012, 07:31 AM
Ah, now corruption, bribery, kickbacks and the involvement of organized crime I can certainly concur with :) There are many who are able to emigrate from China to elsewhere who either have government connections or paid a few hands along the way - and that's for legal, proper emigration/immigration. There certainly would be good business for criminal organizations to smuggle people out and make sure they're a continued source of income even once they get to wherever.

This would not be a government policy thing but one of individual officials along the way being greedy and corrupt.

Maybe the interest and penetration of the training-smuggling-extortion business is lower around the Toronto area. I don't see the cookie-cutter restaurants around here (if I don't count the food court stalls in malls), and I know both Hong Kongese and Mainlander restaurant owners.

Eamon Burke
06-01-2012, 11:11 AM
There's a place in Fords NJ called "Fresh Tortilla" which delivers both Mexican AND Chinese food! Mind. Asplode! :shocked3:

Some of my wife's and my favorite early dates took place in a Chinese-owned, Hawaiian-themed, Italian and Sushi Restuarant.

It has since closed.

Still-edo
06-01-2012, 12:13 PM
Echoing Chef Son... A lot of Vietnamese institutions are the same way. I know in Orange County (the California one) it's almost common knowledge some businesses are financed directly by the Vietnamese government or an official.

Another thing is old school Asian folks pool money together rather than get a bank loan. And no one is shy about copying what works. So thats how you see a lot of the same.