Granite City dinner experience

A while ago, I posted about inauthenticity in restaurant design. My partner in crime responded quite well. Well… once again I ventured into the world of chain restaurants with my family, and once again, I wasn’t happy.

This time, the culprit was Granite City. While the food was good (if not too much), and the service was impeccable, the whole dining experience was almost entirely ruined by the presence of three large flat-screen TVs in the main dining room. Not the bar, mind you. But the dining room! The place where I want to enjoy a special night out with the wife and four kids, talking about our day and learning from the surroundings. You know, typical – historical! – restaurant experiences. But no! This dining experience was characterized by all four children – even the one-year-old! – being transfixed on the TV screens. If there was any conversation, it consisted of a question and answer about the NFL All-Star game, and it’s related skills competition and ESPN commentary!

Here’s the question: why are there TVs in the dining room??? I realize TVs have been in bars for some time. But why have they migrated to dining rooms? Is it good for business? Do more families come because they know they’ll be able to spend an hour eating and not talking with each other? Have we come so far that not only can we not eat a meal at home without the TV on, but now we can’t even eat a meal out without three of them on (different channels, don’t forget!)!

Now, in the interest of self-disclosure, I own stock in Granite City. (My financial adviser said it was a good company with great growth potential.) Overall, it seems like a great company and restaurant. But why would they put TVs in the dining room? Why do they feel the need to distract us during dinner? Why would they work against quality family time? Why the compromise? What’s the gain?

I must admit, though GC has many things going for it, I’m reluctant to return and try to compete with three TVs for my kid’s attention.


  1. 2.7 TVs in every household, with an average household size of 2.3 people. That’s the simple answer. We’re obsessed with screens, and Granite City is just a reflection of that. This trend doesn’t thrill me, given that I’m part of a 3 person/1 TV household (and that 1 TV is at least 15 years old, with a screen that’s decidedly NOT flat). But then I think of the hotel I stayed at in NYC last summer (with a TV in the bathroom) and the hotel suite I stayed at last week (2 beds, 3 TVs), I realize that I’m very much in the minority.


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