RESTAURANT REVIEWAfter I go to the anime club, I like to eat a combo meal of some sort at a popular fast-food restaurant franchise. I'm seeming to alternate between McDonald's and Wendy's, as sometimes I want a Big Mac and sometimes I'd rather have a delectable Wendy's Spicy Chicken burger (which I have to get at Wendy's since there's no KFC open in central Ottawa at that time of evening).
Last night I was in a Big Mac mood, so I went to one of the two McDonald's that I'm aware of that's within easy walking distance of the University of Ottawa, the one on Rideau Street, across the street from the Rideau Centre. I probably would have gone to the smaller location with the more intimate atmosphere on Elgin, but I wanted to browse a little at the Chapters bookstore first. Damn, it was soaking last night, though one-third of the journey was in the enclosed Rideau Centre, which they keep open in the evening for hours after the stores close to allow easy access to the Rideau Centre Famous Players cinema from Rideau street on one side and the major bus stop on the other side, as the streets that should, theoretically, enable one to navigate around the outside of the Rideau Centre, from one side to the other, are a lot more complicated than they ought to be. (By the way, assuming that you have an easily concealable videocamera and you won't be a nusiance to anyone else passing through the shopping centre, you and several of your friends can recreate many key scenes from Romero's original Dawn of the Dead in the Rideau Centre after the stores closed but while the mall is open. Like that one shot of the four of them on the upper level in front of JC Penney's, looking down at the remaining zombies on the ground floor, when Peter says the "When there's no more room in Hell" line. Have your "actors" stand in front of Sears on the top mall level just in front of the huge opening, and film them from the stairs.)
I went to Chapters, which is open until 11 p.m. on Saturdays, but they didn't have the latest volume, volume 8, of Mihona Fuuji's Gals! manga in French (though they did have volume 6 of the Patlabor manga, but I didn't get it as I don't have volumes 4 or 5 yet). However, it turns out that they were having a weekend 20% off special on children's and teen books, so I bit the bullet and picked up a cheap paperback copy of the Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism, which I've been curious about but which the Ottawa Public Library doesn't have a single copy of, for just $8.
Anyway, I go a couple of doors down to the Rideau Street McDonald's, and this is a McDonald's I have been to several times as a resident (and I have memories dating back to my teenage years of going to that particular McDonald's the many times I visited Ottawa), but, lately, there's been something slightly amiss about this McDonald's.
First of all, every time I go in there, and keep in mind that it's pretty much always late evening, there are always two rather burly private security guards there. This isn't weird in and of itself. This McDonald's is rather close to the bars and nightclubs of the Byward Market, and I doubt the local McDonald's franchise owner would go to the expense of hiring two rent-a-cops if they weren't needed. I guess I just haven't been there when they get their more drunk and rowdy visitors. The McDonald's on Sainte Catherine's across the street from Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal sometimes has one security guard, depending on the time of day.
So I get to the counter, and order my Big Mac trio, and I get it within two minutes or so, no incident. Like usual, even though I'm eating in the restaurant, they put my food in a bag instead of on a tray. Why? That's another weird thing. Because this particular McDonald's doesn't seem to have trays, or, if they do, they don't use them in the evening. Maybe that has something to do with the security problem they seem to be guarding against? I don't know, but it's very strange.
So I try to take my food to the table, as I have to drop it off to be able to get the straws, napkins, and ketchup, which is a little inconvenient. However, I can't get directly to the main dining area because the two fricking security guys are having a little chat with each other and they're completely blocking the way. It's absolutely nothing security related, they're just chatting with one anohter since nothing bad was happening in the restaurant. So, due to their lack of intangibility, I had to walk around the divider and use the entrance to the dining area that was near the main doors to Rideau street. Damnit, if they're just going to stand there and chat, there is another dining area that is off-limits at night, and there is a huge dead-zone between the counter with the napkins and condiments and the closed-off dining area that they can stand in and chat to their heart's content, getting in the way of no one.
I get to the condiment area... I get my straws, and I get my napkins, and I get the little paper cup that you pump the ketchup into, and I go to the pump, and... it's empty! Not only is it empty, but the clear tube that goes from the main cylinder of the pump to the nozzle looks as though it has been sucked dry, with no traces of red ketchup. I go to the other pump, and it's the exact same deal. So I go to the counter to ask for the little packets of ketchup, and they're completely out.
What the hell kind of operation are they running here? It's the main McDonald's in the central area of the city of Ottawa, and it's a large-ish McDonald's, and they didn't have enough ketchup for a Saturday night? So I had to suffer the humiliation of eating my french fries completely dry... I mean, don't get me wrong, their fries are still as addictive as crack to me without the Heinz, but it was like the Spaghetti Incident era Guns N' Roses without Izzy Stradlin, you're losing that one small element that makes the whole production so much better.
Mental note to self: go to the McDonald's on Elgin from now on. Or at least fill out one of those little Customer Satisfaction cards that Hank Hill fills out every time he eats at any fast food place. And try and end an article like this with a punchline of some sort next time.