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Would You Miss Max & Erma’s?

I read in today’s Dayton Business Journal that Max & Erma’s, a regional restaurant chain, was being acquired by a firm out of Pittsburgh. Borrowing a question that my friend John Moore poses regularly on his blog Brand Autopsy, “Would you miss them if they were gone?” Details of the buyout of the chain of 100+ restaurants mention nothing of shutting any of them down, but if it did would there be an outcry?

As a kid, I can remember my friends coming back from one of the original locations in Columbus and telling me stories of how the tables had phones where you could call people at other tables in the restaurant. They also went on and on about “garbage burgers” loaded up with artery clogging goodness.

I can remember 15 (ish) years ago, when Max & Erma’s opened in Beavercreek, it was a big deal. There were lines out the door of the place. In college, I had room mates who loved working there because it was always packed – which equaled great tips for servers and bussers (which usually equaled ample amounts of beer money). It seems that over time, the magic has gone away.

Now, I question just how relevant the chain is anymore. I will own up to still eating there, usually for carry out, more than once a month. Generally my choice is based on the geographic proximity to my home as opposed to actually loving the restaurant. Convenience does matter. Still, would I miss Max & Erma’s if it were gone? Probably not – at least as it exists now.

Perhaps the new ownership group will figure out some ways to bring the magic back to Max & Erma’s. I hope they do. It is a long drive to anywhere else and gas is not cheap. My first suggestion would be to go back to making the burgers from scratch. No more frozen patties. Make me a garbage burger that is sloppy, messy, and perfectly imperfect in form and you will at least get my attention. Just my thoughts.

What do you think? Will a change in ownership be good for Max & Erma’s? Would you miss the restaurant if it were gone tomorrow? If you bought the chain, what would you do to turn things around?

Max & Erma’s to be acquired for $10.2M – Dayton Business Journal: