Peter’s Drive-In, A reality check for haters

I’m going to step up on a soap-box here once more(I know…) and what you’re going to read in the next bit will very likely poke a finger in the eye of some. Too bad, sucks to be you.

In the past if someone liked or disliked a restaurant or any other establishment for that matter they would mention it if others brought up the subject or if in the case of a restaurant, when a friend or family member was going there or suggesting it as a dining option. There were also those who would take every opportunity to blast a place. I can remember a friend from high school who did this about a certain fried chicken store. This guy would make the most bizarre statements saying things like how the chickens were rotten making them more tender and that he knew of employees who spat in the coating for fun. If anyone seemed to be on his side he’d really go for it.

You see my friend’s mother had been fired from this company for theft years before and even charged as a result. It seems that my buddy had decided to go on the warpath after hearing this and became obsessed with bringing down this company. As it turned out I once had the chance to ask his mother about this and she said it was the most embarrassing thing in her life but had actually committed the crime with a group of friends while bowing to peer pressure.

After this I never let my friend get away with his little rants and called him on it one time, mentioning the truth. Instead of freaking out he just shut up and I never heard him mention it again. In reality he never had a real reason to say the lies he did, was just angry for no reason and fed on the power he felt from doing this.

Now fast-forward to 2010. The internet is a daily part of most lives and we all now have the ability to not only mention to friends and family what we do and do not like but to post it for the world to read(like I’m doing here). Think about my obsessed friend from 20+ years ago. If he had a blog and was an avid internet user he could really go crazy with his desire to hurt the company he hated. This may be okay in some cases if you have an actual valid grievance but as with my high school friend most do not. In many cases it’s simply that they are jumping on a bandwagon of haters and the anonymity of the internet gives these whining cowards a sense of power. I’m going to use an example from Calgary that I’ve noticed lately.

Everyone in this city and in fact in many other cities across the country have heard of the local burger place called Peter’s Drive-in. Peter’s has been a fixture in Calgary since the early 1960’s. It then became known countrywide after being awarded the title of best burger in the country in 1971 by Canadian Magazine.  Do they still have the best in the country? I doubt it. The award was given nearly 40 years ago and there are many more burger places in Canada now, some of these are truly great. I can’t even say they’re my favorite burger.

In 2005 Gus Pieters sold the store to a couple of young business people and many customers wondered if things would now change at Peter’s. Well, let me pose this question… If you bought the most popular and long lasting burger place in the city would you make any changes to it? Of course you wouldn’t, that would be the most stupid thing you could do. No business person in their right mind is going to change such a winning formula. Yeah, they did have a sick employee go to work one day and 15 people got ill as a result, but if the original owner was still running it the same employee would very likely have gone to work that day, with the same results. Many Peter’s employees have been around for a decade or more.

So, if the new owners have changed nothing about the place how is it that so many reviewers are saying that Peter’s has gone downhill since they took over? And if the food is still good why then are there so many that mention how truly awful it is, that the burgers are the same ones you buy at Safeway or made from sawdust etc, etc, etc and on and on and on…?

The answers are simple.

  1. The place is very popular and has been for longer than 99% of these whiners have been alive.
  2. Peter’s had the gall to receive an award stating they were the best.
  3. There are new owners and so it’s easy to say things have changed(it could have happened)
  4. It makes these people feel good to bash what so many others like(they think they are non-conformists)
  5. It’s easy to do with the anonymity of the internet.
  6. Hey, others are doing it.

I’ve been hanging around review sites for awhile and anytime I see a review that’s venomous and over-the-top in what it claims it isn’t very likely to be truthful. The odds are that the person who wrote it has an agenda or is just a nutless suck who likes putting things down and sees others doing so. A truly honest negative review is easy to spot when you look. Yes, there are some honest bad reviews about Peter’s. Given the subjective nature of this it’s going to happen to any restaurant no matter how good. They likely have bad days and some people simply don’t like the type of burger they serve. The latter however is not in my opinion a valid reason to leave a bad review. For example, If I like take-away Chinese food and when I try the highest rated authentic Chinese place in town I hate it do I have the right to say they are awful? I don’t believe so, but that’s another post.

My advice to those reading this who have done what I’ve mentioned above is this: Don’t write anything about a given store that you wouldn’t have the cubes to say if you were talking to the owners of the place you want to bash. Think about this and try to quell the ego rising in you that makes you now think “I’d say the same thing to their faces”. You aren’t that tough in the real world.

Don’t misread what I’m saying here, I’m all for the ability to make one’s view known via the internet(I have this blog after all). My issue is with those who haven’t a valid point to make about the experience they’ve had and people who simply want to let others know they don’t like a certain place. These and of course pathetic sheep following other haters and who now have been given a forum for their stupidity are the targets here.

If you’re one of the people I’ve been discussing, no doubt I’ve really got you going with this post. I’m guessing you now want to leave a nasty comment about it and wish to insult me and question my parentage. Feel free to do so. I will very likely even approve your comment unless it is a bit more nasty than my readership would like. In fact I truly wish you would do so, I’d like to have some examples of what I’m talking about for the rest of my readers to view.

P.S. To the owners of Peter’s Drive In: Would it kill ya to use debit?


13 responses to “Peter’s Drive-In, A reality check for haters

  1. As a person who runs a review blog myself I agree with what you are saying.

    But having said that I guess reviews are personal experiences and what you think is great I can hate. That does not validate anyone to say that for instance “the burgers are the same ones you buy at Safeway or made from sawdust” unless you know for sure that it is the case.

    and about your last line. Debit / Credit would be nice but most of us know by know that they don’t offer it and will be prepared 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment James, I’m a reader of your blog.

      True, as I said in the post it is subjective and personal tastes do come into play. However, if you end up not liking a certain style of food, that’s only your taste. You need simply state the food was not to your liking rather then say it’s “Awful, Horrid, Disgusting”. There are too many people who feel they need to put a place down instead of meerly making a valid comment.

      The Debit thing is a bit of a joke that most Calgarians will get, and it’s the one thing the new owners could have changed that would be welcomed. 🙂

  2. I agree with your sentiment and will think twice before posting a negative review, and it won’t be filled with invective unless really really really called for.

    In fact I’m quick to post a good review, but will wait weeks before posting an even mildly negative one (like I’m about to do) just because I’d rather not have any fresh emotional baggage to deal with.

    I’m not a fan of Peters but in all fairness I thought they were crap the very first time I had one. Soggy bun, gray meat, generic taste, etc. etc. I love me a good burger but without nostalgia there’s really no appeal there.

    • I was having a major anti-hater moment when I wrote this and hope it’s not too harsh.
      I’m sure you’ve seen the type of posts and reviews I’m reffering to since you are on UrbanSpoon and perhaps other sites like myself. I think your way of waiting and posting at a later time is a good idea. I wait to post if I’m in a particularly bad mood after a meal and find it’s better that way.
      I have no problem with people who don’t like Peter’s or any other place but some of the “reviews” are just plain stupid. I’ve had the Big Spoons at US remove many reviews for many places that were nothing more than haters looking to run a place down.

  3. If you bought the most popular and long lasting burger place in the city would you make any changes to it? Of course you wouldn’t, that would be the most stupid thing you could do. No business person in their right mind is going to change such a winning formula.

    Want to bet?… for 48 years Peters bought their patties from a local butcher shop called Alberta Locker Service. On May 21 2008 Stephen Hayden called and said that effective immediatly Peters Drive-In has a new meat supplier (Centennial Foods). No notice. This after telling the owner of Alberta Locker to go ahead and buy their new facility on February 1 2008.

    • While I will stand corrected on this point in a broad sense as to any possible changes, I will state that moving suppliers is not the major formulaic change to the operation I was referring to. Most places including huge chains like McD’s will move from one supplier to another several times in the course of decades in business without actually much noticeable difference in the product from a consumer perspective.
      If the change made and the other things you mention did take place it is unfortunate for the original supplier and certainly not a move I’d condone based on what you’ve said. Again not an uncommon action for a food business and I have no knowledge as to the circumstances behind what took place and cannot therefore comment on the specifics.

  4. Well, just in terms of the burgers, it used to also be 100% beef, but that is also not true anymore, as there are some fillers. Can’t tell from appearance as the patties are still dunked in sauce as they used to be, but advertising information has changed ever so slightly.

    Eh, get over it. No one is going to Peter’s for a paradise of gastronomy. It’s more of a novelty. I go for the shakes, and on rare occasion, a cheeseburger.

  5. There is no question the burgers have changed. I can’t comment on the rest of the food, but the patties are substantially different. It is very noticeable if you order the burgers without sauce as my diabetic mother does.

    • There are as many who say the opposite as there are those who would agree with you. I will myself stand by what the owners have told me since they are the only ones who truly know. If they are lying, so be it I’m wrong. Until that has actually been proven just saying that they have changed simply because you believe it to be so means nothing and changes as much.

  6. The trick now when going to Peters is to find any of the staff that can speak English well enough to be able to take your order without messing it up.
    I asked for chips. Repeated myself four times and only got a dumbfounded look. FLIES they could understand. The place is dirty, the clothing on the workers is dirty. I wont be back.

    • I’d be more inclined to believe that your use of the word “Chips” was the reason for the lack of understanding. In North American fast food vernacular it is “Fries” that is the common term (just an FYI). Try asking any clerk in a store where the “crisps” are when looking for “Chips” and you’ll very likely receive a similar look. After all, that term is used in place of “Chips” in the same overseas location where they call French Fries “Chips”. I would also ask that any racist remarks be kept to yourself.

      As to cleanliness, if they are dirty it is worth mentioning in a comment.

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