As some of you may know, I live in the west San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles proper. About a half mile south of my house is Ventura Boulevard, one of the Valley's major thoroughfares. Until a few months ago, about a half mile east on Ventura stood one of the few Taco Bell fast food restaurants in the area. We have several Del Tacos around, but this was the only Taco Bell. Once every so often, I'd stop there for lunch, to try the latest Gordita (which somehow always sounded like a Japanese movie monster to me) or the newest Quesadilla or whatever. Three or four months back, I decided to stop by the Bell to grab a quick bite, only to discover it had gone out of business. This surprised me, since most fast food chains don't drop like flies much around here, especially when there aren't many others of the particular chain to be found locally.
At least once a week since then, I've driven by to see if anything had changed at the location, and about a month ago, I was thrilled to finally see a LEASED sign on the property. Something new was going in to replace the Taco Bell. I spent the next several weeks pondering the possibilities. We're already butt deep in McDonalds and Burger Kings and Wendy's and Jack-in-the-Boxes and Carl's, Jr. around here. Even In-n-Out Burger (the best fast food burger franchise in the country, bar none) has maxed out in the area, with one available within a couple of miles now in any direction. We've got all the Pizza Huts or Domino's or Little Caesar's or KFCs or Subways or Quizno's we'll ever need. What I was really hoping for was a Sonic Burger since the only Sonic in Southern California that I'm aware of currently is down by Disneyland, a 90 minute drive away. When I was in Metropolis, Illinois back in June for the annual Superman Celebration, I had brunch at their local Sonic Burger and fell in love with their Diet Cherry Limeade, my favorite drink and one I cannot find around here anywhere.
So you hope, right? You drive past the location every so often to watch the demolition and reconstruction and you wait for the big, bright banner to go up, announcing what's coming, and you hope it'll be a Sonic because you really have a Jones for those Diet Cherry Limeades and then one day the banner goes up as expected and you read it as you drive by and you almost drive your car straight into the nearest lamppost because you're so astonished by what you see.
COMING SOON, the banner reads, in bright green letters at least a foot high, ANOTHER STARBUCKS COFFEE DRIVE-THRU!
That's it? After all this anticipation? That's all I get? Another freaking Starbucks?
Now don't get me wrong. It's not that I dislike Starbucks (although, to be honest, I much prefer the Ice-Blended coffee drinks at the local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf), it's just that there seems to be a Starbucks on almost every other street corner, interspersed with the aforementioned Coffee Beans. In fact, to add insult to caffinated injury here, were you to stand in front of the new Starbucks location on Ventura and hurl your no-fat, no-sugar, half-caf, no foam, Venti Mocha Frappachino with enough force, you would literally hit someone standing in front of another Starbucks diagonally across the street. They are that close together.
So what are we to assume here? That Southern Californians are too lazy to cross the street for a cup of coffee? That the City Planners have finally run out of new ideas completely? That some evil super-villain is doing this just to drive me crazy (admittedly a short trip)?
Truth to tell, I just don't know, and I honestly don't really care. I just mourn for my stillborn Sonic.
So can anybody tell me where I can get a decent Diet Cherry Limeade around here?