Is there a name for this kind of restaurant decor?

The kind you see at Bennigan’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, Chili’s, etc., that kinda franchise-restaurant (is there a name for that?), all kinds of pictures on the wall and sometimes other things on the wall and faux-nostalgia and things, all apparently designed and planned in the corporate central office.

In the words of Moe Szyslak, they are “crazy crap on the wall” restaurants.


If it doesn’t already have a name, we can give it one now: pastiche americana

I’ve no idea what such stated decor looks like, not being American; but I was told by one that there are vast warehouses where the discerning incipient restauranteur can go to stock up on ready-made fake antiques for his venture.

Dave Barry said it was “Kind of Rustic or Something” – the typical décor of Twelve Proctologists in Search of a Tax Shelter (his no-nonsense name for such places) was, he said, “as if someone with telekinetic powers like Carrie had gone insane in an antiques store or garage sale, and ended up embedding old farm equipment and bits of nostalgia in the walls.”

I worked at a new Chili’s when I was in my 20s. A team from corporate came out with a truckload of that stuff to put it up on the walls before we opened. I call it faux Americana.



Or rather ersatz kitsch.

Here are a few good example pictures:

The first two are from TGI Fridays; the third is from an Applebee’s, which tends to at least have a thematic unity to what they place where on the walls (disclosure: I used to have Applebee’s as a client, when I worked in advertising).

This, I have heard, as well, though I suspect that the larger chains have their own warehouses, or make the stuff themselves. For example, you see a lot of the exact same stuff on the wall at any TGI Fridays that you might visit.

Don’t say ersatz. All that stuff is genuine kitsch!

Cecil Adams on “Where do chain restaurants get their antiques?” (The answer for Cracker Barrel, at least, is its own warehouse, stocked with stuff from antique dealers around the country.)

In case anyone is curious why the restaurants do this, here’s an article, about eleven years old, about it. The article says that the restaurants do it for the entertainment value, for the visual stimulation and to spark conversations among the customers. Also, it’s meant to give the impression that the restaurant is American and authentic (although it seems to me that seeing the same crap in every location of a restaurant chain is the opposite of authentic). And as shown in one of kenobi 65’s examples above, Applebee’s makes a point of having local memorabilia.

I think Ruby Tuesday’s has gotten away from this look over the past couple of years.

YUPPIE: Hey, this isn’t faux dive! It’s just a dive!

MOE: You’re a long way from home. I’ll start ya a tab.

Early American yard sale.

Dewey, I have a couple of friends who work for Crackerbarrel’s antique warehouse (I live ~ 3 miles from CB hq) and it’s exactly like Cecil’s column says. Some of the locals have been known to dabble in the buying and selling if kitch as a sideline.

Eek !

Is there a name for the Bennigan’s/Applebee’s/Chili’s kinda chain restaurant?

Casual Dining

Although those specifically fall under American/Bar & Grill

Dr. Hibbert: “Alright, where would you kids like to eat tonight?”

Kid1: “The Spaghetti Laboratory!”
Kid2: “Face Stuffers!”
Kid3: “Professor P.J. Cornucopia’s Fantastic Foodmagorium and Great American Steakery!”