College students are not exactly the most sophisticated diners. What they're looking for is cheap eats, large quantities, quick service, open late and an atmosphere free of any of the older generation folks like me. In their eyes I'm probably the grumpy old man who complains about everything and talks about how much better it was back in my day. So, I'm down in Eugene, at the UofO campus, getting hungry, when I decide to get a quick bite before the hour drive back to the capitol city. Originally, I pulled into Burrito Boy, a dingy Mexican joint within a quick turn of the direction I was headed. As I got out of the car I noticed that next door was a restaurant called "The Jail." Through the windows it looked like a crowded restaurant and the sign indicated that this was the second Jail in a chain. So, I headed toward my detainment willfully with camera, ready to document conditions inside. It was as bad as you might imagine. There were doors open exposing storage areas, dingy hallways leading to mysterious areas in back rooms. On the way to the bathroom, to do a hand scrub, I paused for a moment wondering if I might hear the cries of a prisoner confined to a shadowy cell somewhere out of sight and forgotten. State prison guards have it great compared to the working conditions in this privately run jail. I wasn't sure if the couple of people working here were the guards or the prisoners themselves. The lady behind the register had a permanent scowl and the man in the kitchen was sweating over the steam billowing from pots boiling up on his stove. He didn't look too friendly either. I ordered the Original Flame Broiled Teriyaki Chicken for $5.99 and a $.50 drink. The meal came back in a styrofoam container even though I was eating in. Condiments were centralized in an area near the front. The coating of hand grease on the community hot sauce was almost enough to lose my appetite completely but I thought quickly and grabbed it with my non-eating hand. I took a good splash of the spicy red sauce because it was actually a huge dish of meat. As I placed my heaping plate of charred chicken down on the counter to eat I couldn't help but notice an unappetizing sight in the corner of the painted window frame in front of me. It was a wad of some sort of window sealant sprayed with a gray paint. I would have moved to another spot at the counter but all the stools in this restaurant were filled with customers. And besides, all the other window corners had similar gray blobs. Focusing on my food, I dug into the meal before me. The chicken was pretty good. It had a nice crispy skin and the pieces of the chopped chicken were not fatty. When my sentence was served, I headed out the door on parole wondering if that was the experience my captors wanted me to have. Was that the marketing that attracts a certain type of customer to try their chicken or are college students much more tolerant of lousy atmosphere then I am?
490 E Broadway
Eugene, OR 97401
There was a place in Big Bear California I used to go for breakfast called The Grizzly Manor where the owner would be really abrasive with his staff and customers. It was part of the experience. Get it "Grizzly Manor." The customers that got it would yell back and complain about the breakfast which was usually pretty good. My wife and I always laugh about how much fun that place was because there were always a few new customers that didn't know it was really a show.