Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chain Restaurants - Cheddars

Anyone who worked with me back in my retail loss prevention days can attest to the fact that I almost always avoided chain restaurants when traveling with them.  As a matter of fact, the word was that you showed poor judgment if you chose such a place for lunch or dinner…and it might even impact my attitude for the remainder of my store/functional reviews!  At least that was the rumor…shame on me if it had been true…

Well, the years pass, subsequent jobs force changed attitudes and the added fact of a fixed retirement income gets in the way of style!  I still much prefer ‘discovering’ local restaurants, diners and joints…but as chains have dramatically improved vs. 20 – 30 years ago and our new reality has seeped in, I have evolved with the times.  Some of my former Montgomery Ward, Household Merchandising and Venture Stores compatriots may be stunned by this change…and I know that at least one VP of Asset Protection/Loss Prevention is still maintaining the tradition. 

Moving forward…this is the most recent national chain restaurant we’ve visited…

Over the past few months, Laurie and I have heard very upbeat reviews about this Cheddars Restaurant in Alcoa Tennessee.  To quote, “the food is great”; “the price is right”; “nice casual atmosphere with good service” and; “the place is always packed”.  So, we were out and about after dropping some friends off at the McGee-Tyson Airport…and it was a bit after 1:00 PM on a weekday. 

We started out with an order of Chips and Homemade Queso.  This was described as rich and creamy queso dip served with freshly made tortilla chips and their own fresh salsa.  We chose to add seasoned ground beef to the queso dip ‘for heartier flavor’. (No charge for the ground beef)
The chips were OK…not terrific.  On the positive side, the salsa had a nice spicy bite to it and the queso with the ground beef was also quite tasty.  Another positive…that we didn’t take advantage of…was that we were offered a refill on the chips and salsa.  Given the price of this appetizer, $3.99, it seemed like this was a good deal. (Of course, most Mexican restaurants put chips and salsa on the table at no charge)

Laurie ordered the Hawaiian Chicken Salad.  It consisted of sliced chicken breast marinated with island flavors, served on a bed of fresh salad greens with pineapple, pico de gallo, tortilla strips and honey lime dressing.  Laurie reported that it was a very nice salad…2 thumbs up!  Plus, the salad was large enough, that she brought some of it home!

I ordered Cheddars “World Class Chicken Sandwich” with a side of homemade red beans and rice.  The sandwich was described as a grilled marinated tender chicken breast topped with peppered brown sugar bacon, melted cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and a honey lime dressing on a fresh sandwich bun.  To start, let’s dispense with the homemade red beans and rice… It was pretty much flavorless and more like soup than any red beans and rice that I’ve ever had before.
However, the World Class Chicken Sandwich was indeed world class!!  This has to be one of the best chicken sandwiches that I’ve ever had… Flavors popping all over the place…I didn’t even put Tabasco on it!  This is an excellent sandwich and I’d eat it once a week if I could…or should… I’m sure it’s not doctor approved!
Service was prompt and pleasant and the d├ęcor was comfortable and warmly casual… While there were a couple of downsides with the food…i.e. the chips and the red beans…they were relatively minor.  An offsetting positive was the price.  Laurie’s big dinner sized salad was only $7.29 and my incredible chicken sandwich with a side, was only $6.59.  All in all, we now understand why our neighbors gave Cheddars such positive feedback and…we will return!
The Cheddars in Alcoa is located at 250 Hamilton Crossing.  The phone number is 865-983-5582.  Cheddars website is   

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Love the pictures.

    I was looking at your profile, I remember shopping at Venture Store, it's been a long time. All the Venture Stores around my area are all closed.