Stir Fry — Vol 55
popular restaurants from the 90s + my digital bookshelf is here!
It’s been seven days since we lost another hip-hop star and Black man to senseless gun violence.
Being in the rap game seems to be one of the most dangerous professions.
Two studies were done on this topic in the mid-2010s, and the results concluded that murder was the cause of death for 51.5% of hip-hop artists. More than half! And the average age at their death is between 25-30 years old.
In 2020, XXL magazine wrote an article examining 77 rappers' deaths; more than 40 of them remain unsolved! Hip-hop has a higher rate of homicide than any other genre of music.
It’s too much.
Today, in honor of Takeoff, we will have Stir Fry.
Before we get to today’s topics, here are some fun facts about the track Stir Fry.
This was the first time the trio rapped over a more pop beat versus their signature ATL trap sound.
The beat was originally intended for a T.I. song. Glad he didn’t get it.
This beat was from 2008. Pharrell had an old hard drive with him one day in the studio and said, “this is the moment he had been waiting on” when he played it for the group.
We are keeping with the theme of food for today. Let’s revisit a few restaurants that were popular in the 90s and no longer stand as tall or at all today.
Let’s see if I list a few of your favorites.
I’ve been a reader my entire life, but I think it all started in elementary school with our scholastic book reading list. I remember our teacher made reading into a competition one day, and the four students who read the most books from the Scholastic list in one month got a free trip to Friendly’s after school with our teacher.
Of course, I was one of the four students that got to go, and our teacher let us order whatever we wanted off the menu. I remember getting milkshakes, ice cream, and a HUGE burger.
I don’t think teachers do this anymore, taking their students out to eat after school hours. There is too much happening nowadays for this to fly. But back in the day, it happen all the time, or at least it did at the schools I frequented. Crazy thinking back about this.
Fun Fact: This chain opened at the height of the Great Depression (history lesson), and it was just a small ice cream shop called Friendly. They didn’t adopt the ’s until 1989!
Bob Evans (’48)
One of my favorite childhood memories comes from eating breakfast at Bob Evans with my mom. She used to take me as a treat before school sometimes.
My mom loves to tell this story.
One morning we were there before school, and I guess I had a major appetite because I had EIGHT plates from the breakfast buffet. It was so noticeable that our waitress came over to our table with this look of “is everything alright over here,” like my mama ain’t feed me at home.
I remember my mom saying, “they are going to think I don’t feed you at home.” And I am sure that is exactly what our waitress was thinking after she kept picking up several dirty plates from our table.
The last time I went to Bob Evan’s, was in 2018. Julian and I were driving back to DC from Cleveland, OH; there was one when we got off the Pennsylvania turnpike. Safe to say, they didn’t have a breakfast buffet, and the food didn’t taste nearly as good as it was when I was 10.
Fun Fact: In the mid-1990s, the company opened a Mexican-themed restaurant called Cantina del Rio and founder Bob Evans said it was a complete disaster that he didn’t even get consulted on.
Everyone remembers Sizzler; they were everywhere. This California-based restaurant and buffet made weekend dinners out as a kid the best and fancy. I mean, where else in your tender pre-teen years would you be able to eat as much shrimp as you want?
Sizzler also had one of THEE best salad bars ever. Their salad bar was so popular that they changed their entire game and became a full buffet, which worked for a while for them, but then the quality started to diminish. But as a kid, I couldn’t tell. Plus, on certain days, kids ate free. We would always run into folks we knew at our nearby Sizzlers.
The chain still exists, mainly out west in Arizona, Utah, Idaho, California, Oregon, and Washington.
Fun Fact: When Sizzler first opened in 1958, a New York strip steak, served with a baked potato or French fries and a roll with butter cost $1.39. Today that would equate to $14.28 which is still hella cheap for a steak. Damn we was eating cheap ass steak, lol.
Sweet Tomatoes (’78)
While Sizzler was not the first restaurant to create the ultimate salad bar, it really set the bar for others to follow suit. But when I encountered this restaurant in middle school in Phoenix, Arizona, I fell in love.
Not only did this spot have what seemed like an endless salad bar, but they also had a variety of soups and bread to complete your meal. We used to go here after church on Sundays, and I would light UP this salad and soup bar.
According to the Goog, none of these glorious soup and salad restaurants exist anymore. Like many restaurants, they filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy but bounced back. But then Panorama hit four years later, and then they couldn’t recover. They were set to open ONE restaurant in La Mesa, California, in July of this year, but that has been consistently delayed. Ugh, it sucks, because I loved this spot.
Boston Market (’85)
This fast-casual restaurant is still around today, but who still goes here?!
Well, let me tell you, Julian and I used to frequent our local BM when we lived in Arlington, VA. There was one right down the road, and at least once a month we would grab to-go plates from here.
It seemed like we always dined with the 65+ crowd or a few folks who are around our age that also remember they enjoyed this restaurant in their adolescent years.
Boston Market was a full experience in elementary school and my first introduction to cafeteria-style dining. It was like an elevated school lunch.
Think about it.
Where else, back then, did you have the same experience where someone was sliding a tray with a plate and asking you what you wanted from the options behind the glass? It’s so common now, but back then, not so much.
I also can’t tell you the last time I got meat from Boston Market, originally named Boston Chicken. I always get the side sampler because I love sides.
Fun Fact: Boston [Chicken] Market created Einstein Bros. Bagels in 1995. Last year Einstein’s merged with Panera Bread and Caribou Coffee.
Rainforest Cafe (’94)
Not everywhere had a Rainforest Cafe, but if your state had one, you probably went as a kid. In 1997 they only had six restaurants across the states, one of which was located at Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, Arizona.
I feel like this restaurant was the first of its kind. It made dining interactive and exciting, especially when you are 12. Every 20 minutes, there was a rainstorm. The lights would dim, and you would hear rumbling and see flashing lights mimicking thunder and lightning.
They had faux plants, trees, and animals carefully placed throughout the entire establishment to make you feel like you were somewhere in South America or Florida, lol.
And I mean, what restaurant has a damn gift shop. A gift shop! That is how you know this was more than a restaurant; they created a whole experience so you would forget the lackluster menu.
They still have about a dozen locations up and running. I’ll take JJ to one the next time we visit a city with one kicking and gasping for air.
Fun Fact: One of the Dubai locations, there are two, tried to make the faux rainforest into a natural rainforest. I don’t know how that would work and how they would keep the actual bugs away from the food and drink. I’ll pass.
ESPN Zone (’98)
I don’t understand why this concept didn’t catch on. It was like a more adult version of Dave & Busters with video games and food, but they added a ton of big-screen TVs and gave it a sports bar theme.
I remember my dad taking me here as a kid in Baltimore, the Inner Harbor to be exact, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I liked it better, and still do, than D&B. The Baltimore location is now a huge and beautiful Barnes & Nobles, so I guess I am not too mad about that.
The Atlanta location turned into some high-end overpriced furniture gallery. But before the switch was made, I vaguely remember I went on a date here with someone I learned I was not into about 10 minutes into sitting down at the booth. I should have known then the company was not going to make it. Because on a football Sunday, the place was empty. And at the time, they had the best tvs for sports fans in the city.
All of ESPN Zone's nine locations—in Atlanta, Disneyland, Baltimore, Denver, Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.—have closed.
Fun Fact: ESPN Zone held an ultimate couch potato competition while still breathing, with competitions in New York, Chicago, and Baltimore. Winners broke world records by watching 72 hours of non-stop sports. I mean, did he get up to pee?!
Honorable mention to these popular 90s restaurants that I remember, but I can’t recall my visits there — Bennigan’s (’76) and Kenny Rogers Roasters (’91).
Did I mention a childhood favorite of yours? Or did I miss your fav? Reply or comment and let me know.
My digital bookshelf 📚
I did it! I completed my digital bookshelf, almost.
I am so geeked! Inside, you will find most of the books, it was hard to track down ones that I didn’t snap pictures of, I’ve read since 2018.
I read books from all genres, so there is something in there that will fit everyone’s reading pleasure.
I used a platform called Notion to build this database. It might be unfamiliar to some of you, but I promise it’s not hard to navigate once you get in.
One of the first things you will do is read my intro message;
this will give you the lay of the land and help you scroll through my reads easily.
You can search by genre, books by Black authors, books I’ve read this year, books I want to read or view the entire library visually (first screenshot) or in list form for a quick scroll.
Inside you will also see my personal touches throughout. I add emojis that speak to the book's vibe, or ⭐️ for my favorites. My feedback on the reads can be pretty hilarious. You can also read the official book summary and view the book on Amazon.
No longer are the days of scrolling through my tweets or old IG stories to find that one book to send to a friend to read.
This is a one-stop bookshop for my fellow readers.
This link is public, so feel free to share it with the other book lovers in your life. Bookmark and check back often to see what’s up next or what I’ve added. Updates will be made on a regular basis.
Reply or comment and let me know what you think!
(in case you missed it, in today’s news)
I feel it’s practically over for my favorite platform. The new guy is destroying all the good and consistency that Twitter has been for nearly two decades.
Out of all the social media platforms, Twitter has stayed the closest to its truest form. Of course, there have been updates here and there, I am so glad they got rid of stories, but it’s never been something that has turned most users away like the other social media giants.
The tech industry still sucks with representation, but Twitter was doing something others were interested in following. But now the new [white] guy in charge is even taking those things away.
And you know he is talking about charging a monthly fee for the platform in the future?! Chiiiilllleeeeee, I will go back to Facebook before I pay for Twitter.
Ugh. This makes me so sad.
It’s a miracle friend I got today’s lunch to you on time. I’ve been dealing with a sick baby for the past few days, meaning mom and dad got no sleep. But hey, I showed up for you.
See you next week friend.