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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Opinions vary on updating classic diners

With a nod to health concerns and latest fads, authentic mom-and-pop staples are conforming to sleek and retro bistro styles. But change isn’t always a good thing, some Gainesville residents say.

Humble Alachua County eateries, such as Pearl Country Store and Barbecue in Micanopy, like to stay true to their culinary roots.

Manager Damon Scott said he will never leave his “mini Cracker Barrel” ways, but has added health-conscious options like vegan burgers.

Rachel Graf, a 19-year-old UF health science and pre-physical therapy sophomore, has contradicting opinions on modernization of classic businesses.

“I’m kind of skewed because I love 'Restaurant Impossible' on the Food Network,” she said. “It shows that on the business side of things, it’s smart to update for a wider variety and customer pool. But, it’s important to make the food the same, just change the presentation.”

Even franchises aren’t into the updating game.

Matt Aschenbrener, manager of the Maki-style sushi hangout How Do You Roll? said companies have to maintain their ground.

“We can’t try to be Sushi Chao or anybody else,” he said.

Ty McDuffie, an employee at Patticakes, a family-owned coffee shop in Gainesville, touts small business.

“I strongly support it,” said the 20-year-old UF engineering junior. “They go out of their way to be unique, whether by using local ingredients or just trying new things, because the owners probably didn’t go to business school, and that’s OK.”

Danny Zeenberg, bar manager and assistant general manager of The Swamp, said modifying the menu isn’t necessary to keep customers returning.

“The trendy restaurants will get the initial push by customers because they are new. But, then newer places will spring up and automatically be the best,” he said. “Now, you don’t have a competitive edge anymore. It’s best to just stay classically you.”

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A version of this story ran on page 4 on 9/13/2013 under the headline "Locals dish on modernization of classic diner restaurants"

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