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How Does Your Expectations Influence Your Opinion?

Posted on : 02-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Personal

Tags: ,


As I stated in yesterday’s post, this weekend we did go out a few times.  This included out to dinner on Friday and Saturday night.  Nothing fancy mind you, but that is still exciting because with a 2 year old and a 10 month old it does not happen often.  On Friday night we were driving back from Koziars Christmas Village and we needed to eat something.  As we were driving in the middle of no where, making our way toward civilization, Allentown.  Yes Allentown at that point was reaching civilization!  We were reading billboards of different places to eat.  Many we never heard of.  Then we saw Cracker Barrel, which we have never been to but we joked about.  Well we said a few jokes and then we saw an ad for Perkins.  Okay I could go for some breakfast food so that was perfect.  As we were driving past the exit for Cracker Barrel my wife joked that I was resistant to change.  Of course this is a dare, so I immediately got off the exit and Cracker Barrel was chosen.  Yes I do fall for “I dare you!”


On Saturday we were out again looking at the lights at Peddlers Village, we then decided to do a quick run to WalMart.  Afterward we were hungry and it was a little later so there should not be a wait anywhere.  For the longest time I have wanted to try a new “chain” restaurant in our area called 99.  Every time we tried to go it would have a long line out the door.  I could not really see a difference to TGI Fridays or something like that, but there were crowds.  We actually saw this at 2 locations so we were looking forward to giving it a try.


So let’s review, I had limited or low expectations for Cracker Barrel and rather high expectations for 99.  Here is a quick review of each based on these dinners:

  1. Cracker Barrel – We walked into Cracker Barrel in Allentown, and instead of a restaurant it was a cute little general store with many items.  We walked around for a little while and checked it all out.  When we did get seated we reviewed the menu to find home style cooking options.  We were sort of in the mood for breakfast but the choices were good.  They did not have alcoholic beverages, so I decided coffee was good for the moment.  The coffee was not the greatest, but not bad.  We placed our order.  The waitress immediately brought over corn muffins and biscuits.  I ordered a sample platter which included chicken dumplings, meatloaf and ham.  I have to say it was really pretty good.  It was just like home made.  The only negative with my food was it was colder than I would expect, but I ate it anyway.  After dinner instead of having dessert we decided to order a pie to take home.  We picked an Apple pecan crumb or something like that.  I have to say I was impressed and now I am looking to go back and try their breakfast.
  2. 99 – We went to the Warrington 99 Restaurant on Saturday.  The place was structure with a bar that was boxed in with walls and window, segregating that space.  There were signs expressing the different reasons for 99.  One cool thing was that they try to tie in with the community, including pictures of older local high school sports team.  The menu reminded me of Fridays or similar place.  They had many beers on draft, so I had a Sam special winter beer.  There seemed to be an emphasis on steak.  My wife had a crab cake sandwich.  It was good, and included 2 crab cakes.  I had another combo.  The only reason I had this was after I ordered the Prime Rib, the waitress came back a while later to say they were out.  So I ordered a combo of steak and salmon on cedar plank.  The salmon was good, but it is something I make at home so it was really not that special.  The steak looked like it was cooked with a weight on the top of it.  It was flat as can be.  Needless to say it really did not taste like anything.  The funniest was the biscuit.  It was hard as a rock.  It would break apart but made a good clink sound when hitting it against anything.  During the meal we asked for another milk which did not come until after the check.  They were kind enough not to charge us for the 2nd milk.  I did ask the waitress if it was normal for the biscuits to be that hard.  She did say no.  The bill was about $50 for 2 adults, 1 kids meal, 1 milk and 2 beers.  Overall I was not very pleased with the experience.  I did not see it much different than other offerings.  Basically if I want an inexpensive steak meal I think I would go to Outback.  If I want burgers (which they seem to also have plenty of), I think I would go to Ruby Tuesdays or Chili’s.  I have no plans to go back because it really did not differentiate itself. 
So that is a summary of the 2 places.  After leaving Cracker Barrel I immediately started to plan to go back to try breakfast.  This was from the person that was joking about it minutes before going.  At 99 I immediately decided I would not be back.  What is interesting about that was it was not that different than what I might see at Fridays, yet I would go back there.  I think I built up an expectation that it would be good and it did not live up to that expectation.  Cracker Barrel on the other hand I had no expectation, or maybe even a negative one.  The okay experience I had is causing me to go back.  Have you ever had a preconceived opinion influence you like this?  How does a brand set the right expectation to create an environment you want to come back to?