Two Ground Rounds

I’ve been to two Ground Round restaurants in my life. The first one was waaaaay back when, around the same time described in a Magical Place. Like Shakey’s Pizza, the Ground Round was dark, served peanuts and popcorn that you could throw right on the floor, and generally had just the right atmosphere to make a wide-eyed kid get excited to the point of wetting himself at the mere mention of an outing.

Ironically, unlike most of my childhood restaurant experiences, I can’t remember a thing about the food itself. I’ve apparently blanked it out completely, because the sum total of my early Ground Round memories consists of nothing more than throwing peanut shells on the ground. Who knows, maybe that’s all we did.

“Hi there! Welcome to the Ground Round. How many tonight?”
“Right this way. Can I get you a menu?”
“No, just bring peanuts….”

Then, after thirty minutes of constant peanut-shelling, we’d get up and leave. In fact, the more I ponder it now, I bet we didn’t even eat them. We walked in. Got a table. Shelled peanuts. Left.

The second Ground Round is the one I went to twenty years later. The restaurant had the same name, but I think that’s where the similarities ended. (I assume it’s the same restaurant chain. I guess I never really thought about it.) The major differences between childhood Ground Round and adulthood Ground Round are:

  1. It wasn’t quite as dark.
  2. There were televisions wasting perfectly good electrons alternately displaying various sporting events or CNN.
  3. The sudden and welcome appearance of beer.

We also got chicken wings, which at the time I loved, even if a single order was 1,200 calories and 70 grams of fat. I’ve since learned to loath chicken wings, and it’s not because of their “nutritional” value. But, boy, at the time, hot wings and beer were da bomb. Made me almost forget how much fun shelling peanuts was.

I may someday go to a third Ground Round, but that’s probably a bad idea. My guess is by now they’ve turned it into a bad TGI Friday’s wannabe, with walls covered in old road signs and menus covered in BBQ chicken sauce. Some memories are best left undisturbed.

9 Responses to “Two Ground Rounds”

maggieapril said
March 6, 2009 at 5:40 am

I used to work with a guy who claimed to be dieting and actually told me that wings are healthy because “they’re chicken!” As you can guess, he was nowhere near onederland.

I agree, childhood memories often beat out reality.

johngl said
March 6, 2009 at 6:04 am

Funny, I don’t remember the food at Ground Round either. Hmmm.

Helen said
March 6, 2009 at 6:41 am

I definitely remember the peanuts on the floor thing – and I also remember when they stopped because the fire marshal said it was a hazard. Remember, this was back in the day when people actually smoked in restaurants. Since I’ve been an adult, the only time I’ve been to a GR was to go to the bar for a drink. I’m with you on the food – it must be completely unremarkable as I can’t remember a thing I’ve ever eaten there.

Tuscanystone said
March 6, 2009 at 8:00 am

I wonder if pulling the skins off the chicken wings and chucking them on the floor would have the same effect? And less calories too!

God, I love TGI Jack Daniel chicken wings…..stop reminding me how deprived I am!!!

Tusc 😉

Tom Rooney said
March 6, 2009 at 10:51 am

We have a two part Ground Round attached to a mall in my area. The first part is as you say, a bar/restaurant with TV’s peanuts and beer. The second part of this is a booth and table section that has as much charm as the cantina in Star Wars. Carpet on the floor so no peanuts, but the people we see there resemble some of the creatures in the movie.

Biz said
March 6, 2009 at 10:58 am

I think why the Ground Round stood out for us Charlie (and Shakey’s for that matter!) is because we really didn’t eat out a lot growing up, so when we did it was a big deal!

What a difference a generation makes! It’s rare if we don’t go out at least once a week somewhere now!

But the peanuts on the floor was the best! Now you need to do a post on Jim & Pete’s Pizza!

Jennifer said
March 6, 2009 at 11:54 am

I don’t remember the food there either. I’m thinking they had burgers and such, but the peanuts is only thing I remember too.

Now where that used to be is a retirement community!

Nick said
March 9, 2009 at 8:29 pm

I remember the Ground Round up at our farm but I don’t really remember ever going to it. I know we did but don’t recall it…messy and full of peanuts you say? I’m there!

Charlie said
March 9, 2009 at 10:27 pm

You had a Ground Round on your farm and didn’t even go to it? Weird…