Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Somewhere Over the Rio



I learned my lesson a while back to never publicly share negative feelings about a person, place (and sometimes a thing) on my blog. Once I complained that the Peaks Ice Arena was closed even though they promised (PROMISED) us they'd be open on Thanksgiving for public skating. Oh boy, did that light up my inbox with people who have passionate ties to the Peaks Ice Arena. Who knew?

But, I have long written love notes to Cafe Rio for their unwavering devotion to fresh food and no frills eating style. I have blogged, visited and cashed in thousands of FREE MEALS! Which is why I feel a wee bit justified in complaining about the new look and sound of the dinning room.

Chup and I went in the other day and found graffiti all over the faux finished walls.

What are all these stenciled statements?

Getting yelled at in Spanish never tasted so good?

The pressure is on, black or pinto?

When did Cafe Rio turn into a gimmicky franchise with the need to compensate for something by distracting you from the food?

"Chup," I said as we looked around, heads rotating around the place, like seeing Manhattan for the first time, "I am actually embarrassed that we are eating here."

Shake your salsa maker?

But what may be worse (I am still trying to decide) is the background music which plays a strange salsa of Brian Adams, 50's doo wop and the Lion King soundtrack, often interrupted by a suave, deep voice reminding us that we are "listening to Cafe Rio Radio."

Ambiance is everything to me, and suddenly the food didn't taste like it used to. It tasted like money, franchise kingdoms and the Four Tops.

Go ahead . . . try to eat it all?

What happened when Cafe Rio didn't care how long you had to wait in line for their pork salad because they knew it was worth your wait? When did they start caring about me as a wallet, and less about me as a mouth and stomach? When did they stop hating me for not ordering fast enough? And why the stencils? Why? Why? Why?

Anyway, Chup won't do take out because we've had some tragic endings to that whole operation. So it is either eating with blindfolds and earplugs or quitting them forever.

Excuse us, this is serious.