Your awful Uncle Melvin has left you a sizeable cash inheritance, with an unusual proviso: you must take all of the money and invest it in a national chain restaurant, and you and your family must eat at that chain restaurant three meals a day. You get to keep all profits. What restaurant do you pick? Some additional conditions:

1. Must be a truly national chain, not regional e.g. In-N-Out or Shake Shack. Restaurants on the two coasts without franchises in the heartland (such as Cafe Rio) are not allowed.
2. Must be an actual restaurant, not a food store or convenience store such as 7-11.
3. You cannot custom order your 3 meals a day, they must be available in the nationally-printed menu and prepared according to the standardized recipes.
4. ‘Luxury’ chains such as Ruth’s Chris are not available.

Consider this a test of your intestinal fortitude and your business acumen, coupled with an exercise in basic reading comprehension.


  1. melodynew says:

    Kill me now. Someone else can have the damn money. I never liked Uncle Melvin anyway.

  2. Chipotle. Sadly, I believe they are only open for breakfast at Dulles Airport.

  3. Hooters. Duh.

  4. This is a ploy to get the money to your children in as hurtful a way as possible.

  5. So, take the inheritance, invest it in Wendy’s stock and eat there for one day. Then, sell the stock, invest the money somewhere else, and eat wherever you want. If Melvin and his lawyer can’t draft a tighter provision than that, it’s his problem. You and Spence can take the money and run.

  6. K Eversole says:

    Wendy’s. a metric ballston of frosties followed by death.

  7. Well, if it’s 3 meals a day, then I gotta go with Denny’s. Hello “Moon Over My Hammy

  8. Unfortunately, Mark, Uncle Melvin already thought of that and has built in a lives-in-being plus 99 years requirement on ownership. Neglected to mention that detail as there wasn’t room for a lot of fine print in the OP.

  9. Capozaino says:

    Cheesecake Factory. *Shudder*

  10. Panera? Maybe?

  11. Perkins, I guess. Although I would probably just tell his lawyer to shove it and to keep the money. The only thing I could stand to eat 3x a day for life would be mustard sandwiches and that isn’t on any menu.

  12. Panera Bread. Of course, we’d have to move quite a distance to a city that actually has Panera (curse the Mormon Corridor and their inferior breads).

  13. I could eat a reasonably healthy meal from the menu of almost any national restaurant chain in the country that serves three meals a day (excepting sodium intake), so I would go with the one that looked like the best investment of the money. with only a little thought about the menu differences.

    I don’t have the time or inclination to do that now. Find Uncle Melvin for me, however, and I’d be happy to put in the effort.

  14. And Tim J had the same thought…

    Perkins would also be an acceptable choice. I love Chipotle, but I’d get sick of Mexican food real quick.

  15. I’d agree with the Cheesecake Factory, if only because they have a 50-page menu so I could eat something new everyday for quite a while before having to eat it again!

  16. Brother Evans, please tell me you’re not baiting the BCC stobbs into admitting that they eat at chain restaurants. Ok, I’ll bite.

    P.F. Chang’s

    Pretty good Mapo Doufu

    Located in the heartland

  17. EOR, I’ll make it as easy for you as I can: Get a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast – no butter, no mayonnaise, no lettuce, extra mustard. Now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast with the extra mustard, give me the check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven’t broken any rules.

  18. Cracker Barrel

  19. Tatiana wins.

  20. Waffle House! Waffle run at 2 AM, baby!

  21. Do they have to be all three full meals, like breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or can I get around it by counting a snack and eating elsewhere for the occasional meal? What if I only eat one or two meals a day sometimes? What if I only want juice for breakfast? AH!

    Probably Panera, because it’s almost healthy. I might do Denny’s, but it usually does bad things to my insides…

  22. Caffeine Drinker says:

  23. Maryland Musician says:

    What about Boston Market? Or is it only out here on the east coast???

  24. Caffeine Drinker says:

    I remember feeling sorry for the CEO of McDonald’s when the Wall Street Journal asked him if he ate McDonald’s. His answer? Yes, he eats a quarter-pounder every day with no condiments or cheese, just a little ketchup. It’s probably about the only thing on the McDonald’s menu that a C-level executive could stomach on a regular basis.

  25. Is it cheating to just bring whatever food I want into the restaurant, order my meal off the standardized menu, but then eat what I brought in?

  26. Cheesecake Factory or Claim Jumpers(though my first thought put them under “luxury” restaurants, what does that say about me?).

  27. That’s cheating jkc

  28. it's a series of tubes says:

    Cheesecake Factory for the menu depth.

  29. I worked at both Pizza Hut and Dairy Queen for a year and a half (not the same year and a half) and I never got sick of the food at either place. A lot of other places, if I ate there twice in the same year, I’d be sick of their food. I think the trick may be to choose a place that goes through regular menu revisions and a variety of meals to begin with. Of course, the other big question is making sure it’s a place you can get breakfast. I might just have to go with Dunkin’ Donuts.

  30. So, you MUST eat three meals a day, every day? No more fasting or crash dieting?

  31. Is the inheritance sizable enough to relocate? In my location, travel time would make a choice of anything but McD’s, Subway or Dunkin’ Donuts impossible, and that would mean I would have to turn down the inheritance regardless of the amount.

    If we’re talking tens of millions of dollars, then a person could relocate near a good Panera and as a major investor, encourage the restaurant to change its menu frequently.

    And how are the provisions going to be enforced? Receipts? Affidavits from restaurant managers? Is there someone else who would inherit if the provisions of the will were violated, and who would apply continual pressure to make sure the terms of the will were being followed?

    It would be a challenge to plan vacations around restaurant locations. Also, how do you define “family”? Any relation living in the household? Dependent children, regardless of their location? That could make missions and college problematic.

  32. Steve must be doing background research for volume 2 of “Short Stay in Hell.”

  33. Yes to P.F. Changs. But oh, the sodium!

  34. I’d become BFF with the remaindermen [persons]. And, to quote one word from Ardis’s comment, to hell with the restriction of the cold dead hand of Uncle Melvin.

  35. Seasons 52. It’s a little more upscale but it is not Ruth’s Chris level price wise. If you’re going to stick me to budget Steve then either Bob’s Big Boy or Atlanta Bread Co.

  36. Ardis wins again.

    Seriously, I’d take anywhere that has good salad options – or excellent sushi. I’d willingly shave a few years off my life if I could eat good sushi every day – and too much occasionally.

    I have no idea if this would qualify in a few years, or even if it’s any good, but, fwiw:

  37. The problem with most restaurant chains is that their coverage is just too limited. I mean, Chipotle and PF Changs are great, but what about when you have to visit family in some obscure town in Northern Arizona, or when you have to drive long distances, or even when you’re just on the wrong side of town? I couldn’t structure every day around the one Cheescake Factory in most cities. That leaves the big fast food chains. Taco Bell and Wendy’s don’t serve breakfast, so they’re out. McDonalds definitely provides the best international travel options, but I just couldn’t eat there three times a day.

    That leaves…God help us all… Subway.

    I choose Subway.

    Curse you, Uncle Melvin.

  38. RockiesGma says:

    Sounds like Mormonism to me. We get to inherit everything, but……..we must partake all day every day of the same commandments, standards and rules that are available everywhere. No customizing standards and rules, like ordering petit garments when you’re 5’10” and no exotic outside the box partaking — like women being ordained. You have to live this way the rest of your life. No hope for something fresh or new, like gay people being able to marry, rather than suffer a life of rejection and loneliness.The same, old boring, plain fare for the rest of your life.

    It dulls your appetite, makes you wonder if you even want the inheritance, and leaves many with periodic bouts of depression which leads to shame for not keeping a better perspective that Uncle Melvin is offering this great conditional blessing. After all, he let you choose the national chain/religion. You made your choice. But after a few years, the menu/church system has grown old and well……boring…, terribly boring. You’re burned out on frosties and baconators. There’s no excitement for being manager, or even regional executive. But what can you do? Uncle Melvin called the shots. You have to heed/obey, or the inheritance slip-slides away.


  39. RockiesGma says:

    Where’s Auntie M? I want to talk to her…….. At least the fathers have many more options within their option.

  40. Cold Stone. ;-p

  41. I love Seasons 52, but they are considered upscale due to the wine list. They change their menu throughout the year and serve different things in different parts of the country, because local food is part of what they do.

  42. Is Paradise Bakery national? If so, that would be my choice.

  43. Brava! RockiesGma.

    It would be a huge disruption of anyones’ life to eat in the same restaurant 3x/day for all their remaining meals. What about Thanksgiving at Grandma’s? The kids’ wedding receptions? The rubber chicken dinner where their brother-in-law is fundraising for his mayoral race? The dinner party honoring you for winning an oscar? Is no meal exempt?

  44. sethsweblog says:

    Well, there goes in N out…
    Once I’m married and have a kid the family going out for dinner would be three meals. Or breakfast- so I think I’d go with Denny’s. Technicalities ;) With a bigger family it would be even easier. Of course, that just might be uncle Melvin’s way to make sure I have a big family. Darn you uncle Melvin!

  45. How much money is this that it’s not going to be a loss? Investing in the chain doesn’t mean or even franchising doesn’t mean you get to eat for free.

  46. The only problem with this question is that there isn’t a Thai food chain in the U.S.

  47. Amen Laura. Although I fear that if someone was somehow able to franchise a Thai food restaurant it would loose much of its inherent delicious freshness and amazingness.

    So Thai food fantasy aside I think Subway would have to win. The fresh ingredients, highly customisable menu, even when I ask for something on the menu they ask me how I want it made. I would eventually grow to hate it and said uncle.

  48. RockiesGma’s comments makes me think of Vinny’s opening statement. I’d link to it but am reluctant to bring barnyard epithets into the hallowed halls of BCC.

  49. Dave & Busters. I figure I’ll want to be perpetually loaded thanks to Uncle Melvin. Plus, games!

  50. Chick-Fil-A! Three meals served daily, the workers are actually nice (or if it’s pretend nice, they fake it better than most other restaurant employees), and there is a fun playroom for the kids so they can possibly get some exercise. Plus, you can combine every combination of their special sauces to put on each menu item for a new taste. They are closed every Sunday so you have time to work in the church block and the other meetings. Your innards will enjoy this day of rest. Bonus: Your kids might actually look forward to Fast Sundays!

  51. Olde Skool says:

    sweet tomatoes. natch.

  52. MikeInWeHo says:

    This reminds me of the film Super Size Me. Also, about how much is the sizeable inheritance, Steve?

  53. IHOP Dennys or Waffle House.
    He’ll ya

  54. Look, Steve! BCC is alive again! Who knew?

  55. I start my own national chain of restaurants serving what I want, when I want, where I want.

  56. Steve Evans says:

    Hunter: I knew.

  57. Last Lemming says:

    At 12:25 PM yesterday, Steve declared Tatiana the winner but nobody has asked him to explain why. So Steve… why Cracker Barrel?

  58. Cracker Barrel is terrible. Admittedly so is Perkins, but this thought experiment is a torture device. I posed the question to my father and he agreed with me–forget Uncle Melvin and his devil money.

  59. Cracker Barrel wins because it has an incredibly broad menu, serves breakfast all day, serves Coke products, provides meat in times of winter and cobbler in times of peaches. It’s terrible food, but so is everything else in this nightmare concocted by a monstrous Uncle. There’s also the general store half where you can dress yourself in local college team clothing and eat esoteric candy whilst drinking esoteric soda. Plus it’s an ever-expanding franchise and that place is packed almost every night – you’ll get your money and then some.

  60. Cheesecake Factory. Their menu reads like the bible. Huge variety and healthier choices as well. As long as you’re not mandated to eat an entire order every sitting, you’ll do fine.

  61. Chipotle. No question.

  62. Sorry Steve, you’re wrong. You said “national chain” and Cracker Barrel is notably missing from 11 states. Want to try a round 2 or give a better definition of “national” or maybe make up some more rules :-)

  63. Now I want pancakes from Cracker Barrel.

  64. ‘Uncle Melvin Melt’ must be the first new item on the menu…

  65. RockiesGma says:

    That’s funny, kc…..

  66. Olde Skool and I are on the same wavelength, but is it really “national” enough?

    Ultimately, if I really had to eat there 3x daily every single day of my life, I don’t know if I could take the deal. And as someone pointed out, you still have to pay for the food. So define “sizeable.” Could I just buy the entire chain? Even then, that’s a questionable fate. No vacations outside those 15 states, no backpacking trips, no family or communal meals. And Rockies Gma – now I’m just depressed.

  67. Capozaino says:
  68. in-n-out and ruth’s chris were my first choices, so i read ahead to see other ideas. now, i’d say cheesecake factory for the extensive menu or panera because it’s the only decent option left.

  69. “… coupled with an exercise in basic reading comprehension.”

    “… you and your family must eat at that chain restaurant three meals a day.”

    The term family is not defined. I have a spouse, three children, three brothers and my father is still alive. All of these easily fall within the definition of immediate family. In the Mormon world, including my nine grand children and my ten nieces and nephews would also seem appropriate.

    The phrase “you and your family must eat that chain restaurant three meals a day” can logically be construed to mean that only a total of three meals must be consumed at the restaurant every day by me and and the members of my family. This condition does NOT stipulate that each and every member of my family must each eat three meals every day at the restaurant. So, as long as a total of three meals are eaten every 24 hours by some combination of the members of my family, we meet the requirement. That being the case, on behalf of my family, we will select McDonalds—the most profitable national chain in the country. Looking forward to that first dividend check.

  70. Well played.

  71. I’m counting on my skills as a tax lawyer to improve my standing in the next life; I will need to find some loopholes to excuse some of the questionable decisions I have made. :-)

  72. If these are Awful Melvin’s conditions, it’s no wonder he’s dead.

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