Perhaps more than most other flyover states, Oklahoma is home to quite a few successful homegrown fast-food chains that, while many of us proudly frequent on a daily basis, we tend to do so while muttering a long string of obscenities under our breath at the same time.
Be it complacently, ignorance or just plain laziness, the big five—Braum’s, Taco Bueno, Mazzio’s, Taco Mayo and Sonic—do have their major problems that tend to make visiting their stores an unbearable experience at times, one that we tend to commiserate over while eating our meals there, natch.
If I could, I would really love to sit down with each CEO—free of charge—and tell them to their faces exactly what their restaurant’s problems are, but until they start taking my phone calls, maybe a cool nephew or an informed secretary will send them this piece on how I would fix Oklahoma 5 biggest fast-food chains.
For the most part, I think we can all agree that Braum’s food—short-shrifting burgers aside—isn’t really all that bad. From the sturdy crinkle cuts and crispy chicken tenders to their numerous flavors of locally-made ice creams, everyone has their favorite Braum’s meal. It’s once you get the food, however, where the problem starts: the drink area with errant lids and straws strewn about and ice melting on the floor, the spattered ketchup that has been left to crust and congeal and, after all that, good luck trying to find a clean table. What is it about Braum’s and their inability to maintain a clean store? If I were in charge, I would have each store hire one person per shift whose job it is to do nothing but wipe down tables, condiments and so on. That seems logical, right?
Although not an Oklahoma-owned chain, it might as well be. Taco Bueno is usually comprised of above-the-bar fast eats that, as an Okie, we’re practically ingrained to crave. My main problem with the Bueno, however, is the staff: nearly every franchise and store I have been into, I always seem to be walking into the middle of a vicious crew argument that embarrassingly keeps going throughout the entire customer process during nearly every visit. It’s truly awkward to stand there and have your order brusquely taken—just try using a coupon or asking for the special—and then stand their watching your order angrily thrown together by people who can’t work out there issue on their own time. If I were in charge, I would develop a course in mediation training for managers to be required to take so crew deviations are nipped in the bug quickly and quietly. Can we shake on it?
The food at Mazzio’s, in my opinion, is not very good. In fact, I find it to be absolutely terrible. From the destitute salad bar to the limp pizza offerings, if there is one place that is in need of a menu overhaul, especially on its famed “endless” lunch buffet, it’s Mazzio’s. With so many other pizza buffets—many at a far cheaper price, mind you—out there, it’s time the ‘Zo’s step up their all you can eat game and fast. If I were in charge, I would bring in a specially trained pizza chef from Brooklyn, possibly named Tony or Sal, to not change the menu per se, but instead help to create a better version of the product they already have, starting with getting rid of that horrid saltine cracker pizza crust. That may get me to call 799-9999 again.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to forget that Taco Mayo even exists anymore. As a matter of fact, until I pass by it while driving down Classen, for example, it doesn’t even register in my mind anymore as a viable lunch option. Remember back in the 90s, however, when their advertisements were practically omnipresent and the catchphrase “Taco Mayo me, baby!” was on everybody’s lips? Think about it…when was the last time you even saw a Taco Mayo commercial? If I were in charge, I would bring back that stellar catchphrase for a whole new generation, in a whole new ad campaign that screams “Hey, we’re Taco Mayo and we’re still here! And we’ve got a salsa bar, bro!”
Most hot Oklahoma afternoons, nothing sounds better than a half-priced Rt. 44 Diet Dr. Pepper with crushed ice, am I right? But, then again, most afternoons, after rushing across town, by the time you make it Sonic for their so-called “Happy Hour,” it’s five minutes past four and you’ve got to pay full price, at which point you just might has well go across the street to OnCue. Seriously, Sonic… who considers “Happy Hour” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. besides kids getting out of school and the soccer moms who placate them? If I were in charge, I would move happy hour to 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., so hard-working ham and eggers like you and me don’t have to rush and can actually take advantage of this great deal for once in our hot, thirsty lives.