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Opinion: Fast food chains are ruining Bloomington’s authenticity

On Wednesday, September 7, a new chain of restaurants opened on Kirkwood Street. Known for its Texas roasted toast and sauce, Raising Cane’s is a fast-growing restaurant for chicken fingers from the South. However, this is not the only new restaurant opening in Bloomington this school year.

Gables Bagels is a new baking location that just opened off East Third Street. The owner, Ed Schwartzman, also owns the popular BuffaLouie restaurant. Gables opened again in June 2022, along with a few others in March, like Hopscotch Kitchen, an extension of Hopscotch Coffee, and a new storefront for Parlor Donuts.

Although Raising Cane’s was highly anticipated, the reviews were sub-par. In just less than two weeks, Bloomington Raising Cane’s has dropped to 3.6 stars. Reviews have included complaints about the semi-toasted Texas toast, along with the fries, cold and unusual chicken tenders. Despite all the hype, the store does not live up to its name.

[Related: Raising Cane’s to open Bloomington location Wednesday]

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On the other side of this, Gables Bagels prevailed. There are few or no negative reviews from students, and the online comments are massive with delightful reviews from oriental coasters verifying that the cakes are really authentic and delicious. Others praise the excellent customer service and the absolute amazing flavors of the bagel. Even after being opened for about two months, the company still has a 5-star rating.

Is this really a surprise though? Most fast food chains lack what it takes to rise to the level of a small business. Small business is the dream of its owners. In many ways, these companies are their livelihood. They don’t run thousands of different stores, and they still have the time and energy to make sure everything is in order. Take Ed for example. Ed works in front of and in the middle of the gables every day. He goes above and beyond for the customers and always makes sure they get the best product possible. This storefront was his dream, and it shows through his work. You can’t find that in chain restaurants.

Buffaloy was seen on September 20 on Indiana Street.

Hafeba Aljoobi

Fast food chains simply don’t care enough. I went to Cane’s on a Sunday morning with a few of my friends. I was hoping to get some honest reviews along with strengthening my own opinion. It was a relatively clean environment. I’ll give them that. However, this is where my praise stops.

The staff makes it clear that they don’t want to be there, which makes the environment a little tense and unpleasant. It takes a long time to get your food in, and a serious lack of organization doesn’t help. Requests are called by name, and with the noisy, noisy environment, it can be hard to hear them.

With all that buildup before I even had my meal, I was rooting for it to be good. Unfortunately, only one of my friends fully enjoyed it. Others had different feelings about their meals. Between the tasty chicken and the salty fries, the meal didn’t turn out the way it should have been. In the end, we were all left feeling unsatisfied.

The beauty of Bloomington is the small town feel. However, as a college campus, it’s a good idea to have staples like Taco Bell and McDonald’s. They’re obviously going to make a lot of money because college students are going to run the middle of the night for some chicken nuggets. However, Raising Cane’s has secured one of the best locations for Bloomington’s restaurant on Kirkwood Street. Couldn’t the store space have been better used for a small business?

From the opinions of friends, co-workers, and acquaintances, the answer is yes. There are hundreds of inspiring entrepreneurs who are either attending IU or have graduated and are looking to start their companies. Small businesses could thrive, students, employees, and townspeople were glad to have a new institution to try.

Bloomington’s allure comes from its small businesses and unique restaurants. Places like Mother Bear’s Pizza and BuffaLouie’s are what make Bloomington special. Why should we continue to eliminate this by adding substandard fast food restaurants that the majority of students do not enjoy?

Gentry Keener (he/she) is a sophomore studying journalism and political science.