Saturday, November 8, 2008

A day of mourning.

I'm sure it's not normal to have such strong feelings about a restaurant, but my family just adores eating at McAlister's Deli. For 13 years we've been loyal customers. As we've moved from Alabama to Mississippi to Texas to Arkansas to Georgia, one constant has been McAlister's with our only hiatus being when we first moved to Texarkana. Oh the joy the day we realized the restaurant being build across from the hospital was the exact shape of a McAlister's! I couldn't believe our luck! Eric dared to joke that they might not serve sweet tea at THAT one but I just laughed and said they'd never do anything like that. I can't even begin to count the number of times we ate at that McAlister's. I do know Eric and I ate there before every OB appointment throughout my pregnancies while we were there. There was just something comforting about eating there and having a place we could depend on for good Southern sweet tea.

Living where we do now, McAlister's is a bit of a drive so we haven't been able to eat there as much as we'd like, but it is still one of our favorites and our kids enjoy it as much as we do. Until today. Both boys had already decided what they were having for lunch (Riley a hot dog and Owen a turkey and cheese sandwich) and I was planning on doing their new "Choose two" combo with half an Orange Cranberry Club and half a Spud Ole' which is exactly what I had a couple weeks ago when my boys and I ate there after our trip to the pumpkin patch. They've made a lot of changes at McA's lately and although we haven't been too thrilled about some of them, we could still depend on them to have our favorites.

Immediately upon entering the restaurant, I noticed the menu was very different and my eye went straight to the kids' portion. Oh boy. No hot dog! And no PB&J! These are the boys 2 favorites (Owen had only agreed to a turkey sandwich because Eric bribed him with cookies for dessert). I pointed it out to Eric and then, just to be sure I wasn't overlooking something, I ask an employee about it. Nope, no hot dogs and no PB&J. Riley was NOT happy. And as a matter of fact he proceeded to pitch a fit that lasted pretty much the entire time we were there. Then I noticed the Spuds section of the menu seemed a bit shorter than it used to be. Only four spuds to choose from. And one of the ones they eliminated... my favorite, the Spud Ole'. I knew right away this wasn't going to end well and quickly started scanning the menu for other glaring omissions. The Orange Cranberry Club. The Chili Nachos (a meal in themselves). The Muffaletta. The Pot Roast Spud. All missing. Then Eric noticed one of his favorites, soup in a bread bowl, was missing as well. Eric joked that maybe they had gotten rid of the sweet tea. This time I wasn't laughing.

So I finally settled on the half Turkey Melt with half of a Spud Max (**sigh**), Owen still had the turkey and cheese, Eric didn't eat, and Riley wouldn't stop crying long enough to pick anything he wanted. All he kept saying was he wanted "nothing." He did finally change his mind and agreed to some Mac and Cheese but Eric had to pick him up and start carrying him out to the van before he finally agreed to calm down and eat. The food was still good, but under those circumstances, I left with a bad taste in my mouth.

As I walked out the door one final time, I couldn't help but think there should be someone there playing taps as we said good bye to a dear old friend.

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