Friday, September 08, 2006

Pun City's Checkers Speech on Rally Monkeys

Pun City recently got the chance to visit Rally's Drive-In in Columbus, OH. The views and events expressed are inspired by actual events.

Rally's is also known as "Checkers Drive-In" in some regions. This is not unlike the Hardee's/Carl's Jr. relation in a separate franchise. Rally's was founded in 1985 in Louisville, KY. Currently, it is based in Tampa, FL. In 1999, it had merged with Checkers, which had been founded in Mobile, AL in 1986. This blog would say that move was essentially the "UPN merges with WB" of Fast Food.

This is a very new member of the Fast-Food fraternity, but that's cool. The business is fairly new, and they clearly had other restaurants to learn from before they started. This site figures their niche is the "Double Drive-In," where each side of the building has a separate drive-thru. They claim to have "walk-up windows" at each location, but this blog didn't notice this at the location it reviewed. However, it was very easy to walk up to the Drive Thru window for service when needed. The chain also bills itself as "The official Drive Thru of Nascar," for what that's worth.

Pros: Excellent chili. This is a weird opener, but this blog had chili there, and it was fantastic. A very positive part of the experience. Burgers have tomatoes on them, which don't cost extra. This is increasingly difficult to find. Easy enough to get the excess ingredients (mayo, lettuce) taken off the burger. Service excellent and unphased by condiment requests and walk-up request for a soda refill. Very affordable pricing. This blog was able to get a burger value meal, chili, and a milkshake for under $6.00 total. Among the values were a 69-cent milkshake deal during weeknight dinner hours, and 99-cent chili for the same times. Though there was no indoor seating, the location did not pull a "Sonic" and virtually force you into tipping a carhop. Only drive-thru is an option, and this does not require tipping. Pun City's chicken correspondent gave the restaurant's poultry options very high marks, among the top 3 in non-chicken-centric chains. Outstanding soda options. Dr. Pepper, Cherry Coke, and Coca-Cola were all available at the location this blog visited. This is the best selection of non-diet dark sodas this blog has found in a Fast Food chain. Throw in Mello Yello and Sprite, and that's an all-star cast of beverages. Only a Cola-War defying offering of RC Cola or Wild Cherry Pepsi in addition to these could have made for a better soda experience. Realistically though, Rally's stands alone as the soda champion of Fast Food.

Cons: Burgers are not of the highest quality. If the meat quality improved, this blog would be willing to pay extra for it. The rest of the burger ingredients were good, so a lot of potential if they upgraded the quality of their meat. Their "famous fries" are spicy, which is not this blog's preference. The fries were okay for seasoned fries, but they should also offer regular fries. This proved to be a slight detraction from the experience. Lack of indoor seating is also annoying. Luckily the weather was nice and it wasn't an issue this time, but otherwise eating at the location is not the best option. This also could come in to play if trying to procure a free refill or two. Sitting in a Rally's parking lot is not the ideal scenario for dining comfort. This blog very recently discovered there are 3 Checkers locations within about 20 miles of Pun City's home location, but anything outside of these 3 and you're talking at least a 60-minute drive. Only 30 locations are even within 550 miles of this blog, and the closest Rally's is 65 miles out.

Overall Ranking: 6.5 out of 10 Fryers. Major points lost on the burger quality. Service was great, but this is easier to maintain when they don't need to interact with many customers for more than 5 seconds at a time. They don't pretend to be a sit-down restaurant, but it would be nice to have the option during inclement weather. Soda, chicken, and chili are the strengths of their point total. Inability to mix sodas is a slight disappointment also, and this is again due to the lack of indoor choices.

Burger-Only Ranking: 3.5 out of 10 Fryers. This is sad, they really need to improve only the meat. Unfortunately, that's like saying that the Chernobyl nuclear plant just needs to improve its air quality. For a 99-cent burger, you somehow get less than what you pay for. Jack the price up to $1.39, pay for the higher-quality meat, and this could easily get to an 8. That would likely improve the overall ranking to about 8 or 8.5 right there.

Want to see how Rally's stacks up against other Fast Food spots Pun City has reviewed?

Click Here for: Culver's
Sonic Drive-In
White Castle
In-N-Out Burger
Jack In The Box

(Holy crud, this blog hasn't done Burger King yet! Gotta get on that.)


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