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Bennigan's RIP (1976-2008)

It is with a heavy heart that I report the passing of Bennigan’s, who went bankrupt today at the age of 32. Bennigan’s is survived by Chili’s, Applebee’s, T. G. I. Friday’s and several other casual, family-friendly dining establishments with identical menus and apostrophes in their names.

The shuttering of Bennigan’s locations nationwide means the death of several sandwiches, some of which will be remembered if not missed, others, not so much. I would like to share some memories of my favorite Bennigan’s sandwich creations and encourage you to do the same.

Turkey O’Toole
Bennigan’s best sandwich, and the only one I can say I’ll legitimately miss. The Turkey O’Toole was ahead of its time with its revolutionary soft pretzel bun. Mark my words: within the next 20 years, pretzel buns will join white, wheat and rye bread at our nation’s deli counters. Between the buns were a pile of turkey, some Swiss and a generous amount of honey mustard. Biting into it was a joy — pliant but substantial. Although the TO’T was always inexplicably buttery and overly sweet, it somehow still felt healthy. Turkey o’toodles, old friend.

Monte Cristo
Named for a book I never read, the Bennigan’s Monte Cristo was an abomination to be feared and respected. It was a ginormous sandwich with French toast for bread, two kinds of meat, two kinds of cheese and a side of jelly for dipping. It came in four frightening, meal-sized wedges. Once, in Boston, I went to a Bennigan’s with a group of people I barely knew and ordered a Monte Cristo, which none of my companions had heard of. After I described it, they looked at me with disgust, regretting their decision to eat with me. You know how the rest of the story goes. One brave soul tried a bite, then another, and then the bastards had eaten my entire sandwich.

Kilkenny’s Country Chicken Wrap
Like the Turkey O’Toole, Kilkenny’s Country Chicken Wrap has an Irish-sounding name but absolutely no Irish attributes. Although I’m sorry it’s dead, the wrap will not be missed. While I don’t know its true back story, I assume it went like this. Bennigan’s menu, like that of all causal dining places, is heavily reliant on battered and fried foods served with sugary dipping sauces. It is not health food. Then Atkins happened, and mainstream restaurants were forced to pretend they were on board. So what does Bennigan’s do? Stuff chicken fingers, honey mustard, cheese, bacon and a small salad in a tortilla and call it a wrap. Unlike the Turkey O’Toole, K’s CCW didn’t even seem healthy, unless you’re one of the unfortunate few who could take a bite of this and think “well minus the breading it’s low in carbs, plus it has lettuce in it!” If you want fried chicken, the correct thing to order was the:

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
Again, Bennigan’s joining a bandwagon, this time following the new millenium’s “all restaurants must have at least one Buffalo chicken menu item” Unoriginal as it is, I’m all for restaurants slathering their sandwiches in hot sauce, so I never complained. Bennigan’s Buffalo chicken offering was one of the best, with a thick and juicy grilled chicken breast, and bleu cheese that didn’t overpower. A strong, but easily replaced, Bennigan’s sandwich.

I should note that I’m genuinely sorry for all the Bennigan’s employees who are now out of work. As the manager of the restaurant at Arapahoe Rd. and I-25 in south Metro Denver told his local news this morning: "This sucks. I'm out of a job." If any good is to come to this, those south Denver customers who were wasting their $10 on subpar Bennigan’s lunches will take their business up the road to Jabo’s Bar-Be Que — Denver’s best. The Carolina is a life-changing sandwich, and I don’t take sandwiches lightly.

Bye bye, Bennigan's, say hi to Chi-Chi’s for me.


Justin James said…
I hope this is not the begining of the end of all sorts of delicious foods from many resturaunts.
Vanessa said…
You know, my cousin was on the Atkins diet for a while. She used to order all sorts of retardedly unhealthy things that she thought were healthy because they didn't have bread... like cheeseburgers. *shakes head*

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