Ranch*1/Chicken Bar…mystery solved!

ranch1.jpgOne of my favorite fast food joints in the city is Ranch*1 (or was, as the case may be). They primarily make/made grilled chicken sandwiches and other chicken related food items and, as fast food goes, their fare is/was somewhat healthy and tasty. I have enjoyed Ranch*1 for many, many years, and have dealt with location moves, fires, closings, and other obstacles, but I’ve gone out of my way to enjoy their selection. I would rather have a Ranch*1 chicken sandwich than any from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc.

Several months ago, literally overnight, all of the Ranch*1 locations that I knew and loved changed into something called “Chicken Bar”. It was as if Ranch*1 had stayed too late at the ball, the clock struck midnight, and they transformed back into their real self. The change was not drastic at all, and in fact, the only thing that changed was the name. The menu was exactly the same. The people inside were exactly the same. The signage that they had on the walls had an obvious sticker added to them that covered up the Ranch*1 name and now proudly proclaimed the establishment to be Chicken Bar. This changed happened so suddenly, that some of my co-workers didn’t notice it for a week or even more.

My co-workers and I didn’t think much of the change at the time and just assumed that they changed the name to better reflect their core product. It’s quite possible that us city folk might be confused that something named “Ranch*1” would specialize in steak, pig, and other animals found on a ranch, rather than chickens.

Recently, though, we caught wind that a Ranch*1 was opening up not two blocks away from an existing Chicken Bar. How could this be? How could they be using the old name, and why so close to an existing establishment? We were flummoxed, and wild conspiracy theory’s abounded (the most far flung theory was that this was a Ranch*1 from some alternate universe because someone had ripped a hole in the space/time continuum, and that we should be prepared for other “Twilight Zone” type stuff popping up).

After many hours of brainstorming, we came to the plausible conclusion that whoever owned the franchise rights to Ranch*1 in NYC either had a falling out with the corporate office, or the contract ended and wasn’t renewed, etc., and that they were continuing to operate “off the reservation”, sourcing the ingredients, packaging, etc. from the same source that provided Ranch*1’s, but under their own contract.

We wanted…nay…needed confirmation to satisfy our curious minds. We scoured the web non-stop (okay, only the first two pages in Google) and couldn’t find anything. We then went to Ranch*1’s website, and again, found nothing. It was at that point that someone came up with a brilliant idea…”Hey, why don’t we e-mail customer service and ask them what’s going on?”

After a lengthy wait, an e-mail inquiry to Ranch*1 produced the following response:

“Chicken Bar is a group of Ranch 1 restaurants that we released from the Ranch 1 system. Although they are similar, they do not use the same ingredients and cannot use the Ranch 1 trademarks. We are in the process of developing the NY market and several new Ranch 1 restaurants will be opening during this year.”

With the mystery solved, the crack investigative unit was disbanded out of fear that it’s awesome powers might be used for evil.

2 Comments so far

  1. eric (unregistered) on March 22nd, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

    I think you need to occasionally reunite for major projects, such as determining exactly WHY an exterminator can visit every apartment in a building and spray for hours, yet roaches return within moments of said exterminator vacating the premises.

  2. Noah (unregistered) on March 22nd, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

    Wow, mystery solved, Josh! Will you sleep better?

    Will you still frequent the Chicken Bar establishment? I must be honest and say that “chicken bar” sounds pretty nasty. It sounds like some sort of bone you may get when you eat a piece of poultry. Or worse, it sounds like a nasty salad bar full of raw chicken, which is both nauseating and perplexing, to say the least.

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